When fresh produce isn’t readily available, these are the tinned saviours you turn to first
With every other health buff bandying the message “fresh is best”, it’s little wonder many of us are running scared from the non-perishable aisles.
But even tinned foods have their benefits, according to nutritionist, healthy chef and founder of Supercharged Food, Lee Holmes.
“Canned foods can be healthy if the ingredients are preserved in olive oil and don’t contain artificial preservatives or additives that some people may react to,” Holmes tells 9Honey.
“If there are no fresh foods available, some canned foods can come in handy as they have a longer shelf life and are convenient.”
Of course, while scanning tin labels for things like food additives and other nasties is one way to delineate between the virtuous and the not-so-virtuous, far less people know to check the actual cans themselves, with some linked to health issues.
“Many cans on the market can be a significant source of Bisphenol A (BPA), which may cause health problems. Research has linked BPA exposure to heart disease and diabetes.”
Holmes suggests navigating the tinned food aisle with a health checklist, ensuring firstly cans are BPA free (“many companies are now looking at using BPA free cans”), and that they don’t contain excessive amounts of salt (sodium), sugar, preservatives and flavour enhancers like MSG (Monosodium Glutamate e621).
“Try to opt for natural preservatives such as herbs like rosemary and oregano, oils, apple cider vinegar and diatomaceous earth,” she says, the latter referring to a type of fossilised algae found in some foods.
She also recommends avoiding cans and packets with trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats and oils listed in the ingredients.
So which canned foods are king in the health stakes? Here’s Holmes’ top five healthy canned foods to stock up on — and some seriously satisfying (and nutritious) recipes you can chuck them into.
Canned food? Cannellini beans (The Global Organics Range do BPA free cans).
Chuck ’em in this: Lee’s homemade Bunker Baked Beans on Toast recipe is the ultimate comfort brekkie — it only takes 15 minutes, and is packed with folate, iron and magnesium, as well as fibre and protein.
Canned food? Chickpeas (The Global Organics Range do BPA free cans and no added salt).
Chuck ’em in this: Lee’s Vegetable Marrakesh Casserole recipe is a warm hug in a bowl, packed with gut-boosting prebiotics, from her cookbook Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian.
Canned food? Diced tomatoes (Honest to Goodness do BPA free cans and no added salt).
Chuck ’em in this: Lee’s Supercharged Moussaka recipe (featuring lamb or lentils) combines the canned staple with smoky eggplant and yoghurt for a rich, creamy finish that’s easier on the gut.
Canned food? Coconut milk (Honest to Goodness do BPA free cans).
Chuck ’em in this: Lee’s Chicken Biryani with Tumeric Cauliflower Rice recipe from her cookbook Supercharge Your Life is low-carb thanks to switching out regular rice for a cauliflower alternative, and the coconut milk perfectly cuts through the spices.
Canned food? Sardines (Good Fish do them in BPA free cans and in extra virgin olive oil).
Chuck ’em into this: Lee’s Sardine Mash Pot recipe is brimming with omega 3s, vitamin B12 and D — and teamed with creamy avocado for off-the-charts satisfaction levels every time.
Lee Holmes is a certified health and wellness coach, yoga and meditation teacher, wholefoods chef, holistic nutritionist, author of multiple health cookbooks including the best-selling book Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, and founder and director of superchargedfood.com.