Posted by: Lizzie | 2009/07/02

Canned foods

Hi- I just wondered if what your opinion is of canned foods. With food being so expensive, l find it is cheaper to buy canned foods such as tuna, salmon, peas, beans of different varieties etc. Is the nutritional value of such foods much less. I eat a lot of green veggies and salad but for protein tend to go for these options. Is this bad for me. Also, l generally eat a tin tuna everyday for lunch with salad- apart from weekends- is the mercury content very high for me to be eating this so regularily? Thanks.

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Our expert says:
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Dear Lizzie
The nutrient content of foods is highest in fresh foods, but canning is not as detrimental as believed. I am perfectly happy to use certain canned foods because they still contain more than enough nutrients and it is better to eat canned vegetables for example, than no vegetables at all.
Reputable companies monitor the heavy metal content of their canned foods, which includes the mercury content, so you should be able to eat canned tuna without being exposed to unacceptable levels of mercury. I do, however, believe that our diets should have variety and would suggest that you eat baked beans on low-GI bread, or use cottage cheese or a boild egg in place of the tuna at least 2-3 times a week.
Canned peas and beans do not lose appreciable amounts of nutrients during the canning process. Other foods, esp those with a high vitamin C content like strawberries for example, may lose quite a lot of vit C during canning because vitamin C is sensitive to heat and exposure to oxygen. During the canning process the products are heated up, but they are not exposed to much oxygen.

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