Canned Vegetables: Are They a Healthy Option?

Fresh vegetables always are said to be healthier than their canned counterpart, but how true is this statement?

by
Caroline Thomason
— Signos
Dietician + Diabetes Educator (CDCES)
Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Updated by

Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Science-based and reviewed

Published:
July 19, 2024
June 21, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Canned vegetables are often considered less healthy because they are processed or high in preservatives. While there is some truth here, canned foods are healthier than they usually get credit for. Let’s explore the nutritional value of canned vegetables, their health benefits, and how they compare to fresh foods. Plus, hear our guidance on which canned vegetables are best to include in your diet and when they might not be the optimal choice for you.

{{mid-cta}}

Are Canned Vegetables Nutritious?

Contrary to popular belief, canned vegetables retain much of their nutritional value and can be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. The canning process involves sealing the vegetables airtight and heating them to destroy bacteria, which effectively preserves their nutrient value and can prevent food borne illness. Plus, the essential vitamins and minerals are maintained for their shelf life, making canned vegetables a convenient and healthy option that won’t go bad in a few days once you bring them home.

Nutritional Facts of Canned Vegetables

Canned veggies contain both micronutrients and macronutrients. Namely high fiber carbs, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are the most common nutrients you’ll find in canned produce.

  • Calories: Canned vegetables are typically low in calories, similar to their fresh produce counterparts. This makes them a good choice for those looking to maintain or reduce their caloric intake while still receiving healthy nutrition.
  • Vitamins: Canned vegetables retain fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin C. The canning process, which involves sealing and heating, preserves these vitamins effectively, ensuring that the nutritional value remains intact.
  • Potassium: Canned vegetables are a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining healthy heart function and regulating blood pressure. 
  • Carbohydrates: Canned veggies offer similar amounts of carbohydrates as fresh vegetables. Carbohydrates are crucial for providing energy, and canned vegetables can contribute to a balanced diet by supplying this macronutrient.
  • Fat: Generally, canned vegetables are very low in fat or completely fat-free, making them an excellent option for those seeking to reduce their fat intake or conveniently increase their veggies. 
  • Fiber: Canned vegetables provide dietary fiber, aiding regular bowel movements, and can help prevent constipation. The fiber content in canned vegetables also promotes a feeling of fullness, which can assist in weight management.
  • Protein: Some canned vegetables can be a source of protein. While they are not typically high in protein, certain varieties like canned beans and peas offer a plant-based protein option.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href=vegetables-that-lower-cholesterol>11 Foods and Vegetables That Lower Your Cholesterol</a>.</p>

Benefits of Canned Vegetables

According to the USDA, most Americans don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables. Canned vegetables offer several benefits, making them a practical choice for many people. 

Here are some key advantages:

  • Convenient: Canned veggies are incredibly convenient, making them easy for those with limited time or energy to prepare meals. Because they are pre-cooked and ready to eat, there is minimal preparation. For busy folks or families who need to prepare quick and easy meals, canned vegetables can be used in various recipes or meals, from soups and stews to salads and side dishes.
  • Quality and Nutrition: The nutrition content of canned vegetables is stable over time, ensuring consistent quality with a long shelf life. Canning preserves the vegetables at their peak ripeness, locking in nutrients that might otherwise be lost during the storage and transportation of fresh produce. Studies have shown that canned vegetables can retain similar levels of essential vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts.
  • Affordable: Canned vegetables are budget-friendly compared to fresh vegetables, making them accessible to a wider population. The lower cost is due to the efficiency of the canning process and the longer shelf life, which reduces waste. 
  • Food safety: Canned vegetables are free from microorganisms that can cause food poisoning due to the canning process. The high temperatures used during canning kill harmful bacteria and pathogens, making canned vegetables a safe choice for consumption. 

7 Best Canned Vegetables to Include in Your Diet

When choosing canned vegetables, some choices are more nutritious than others. Here are some of the healthiest vegetables to consider on the canned goods aisle at the grocery store:

  • Corn: Corn is a versatile vegetable that can be used in various dishes, from salads to casseroles. It is packed with complex carbs and fiber, which may aid in digestion and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Corn also contains essential vitamins such as B vitamins and vitamin C​.
  • Peas: Canned peas and other legumes, like chickpeas, are high in protein, making them a plant-based protein source for vegetarians or vegans. Peas provide a good amount of dietary fiber, aiding digestion and promoting satiety​.
  • Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, particularly lycopene, linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They are also a source of vitamins A and C, vital for maintaining healthy skin and immune function. The canning process enhances the bioavailability of lycopene, making canned tomatoes a nutritious choice even compared to fresh tomatoes.
  • Green Beans: Green beans are a source of vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, vitamin C supports the immune system, and vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health. Canned green beans retain much nutritional value and are a convenient addition to many meals.
  • Carrots: Canned carrots are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for vision, immune function, and skin health. Carrots also provide a good amount of dietary fiber, which supports digestive health​.
  • Spinach: Canned spinach is loaded with iron and calcium, making it a great choice for supporting blood health and bone strength. It is also rich in vitamins A and C, which are important for immune function and skin health. Spinach is also a good source of magnesium, which plays a role in muscle and nerve function​.
  • Beets: Canned beets are rich in essential nutrients like folate and manganese. Beets are also known for their high nitrate content, which can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure​.

Are Canned Vegetables Good for You?

While fresh vegetables are often seen as the gold standard, canned vegetables offer a nutritious and practical alternative. Those watching their sodium intake should be cautious, as some canned vegetables are high in added salt. It's always a good idea to rinse canned vegetables under water to reduce sodium content and look for low-sodium and no added sugar labels. 

Additionally, people with certain health conditions or dietary preferences might prefer fresh or frozen vegetables to avoid preservatives and additives commonly found in canned options. Despite these concerns, canned vegetables remain valuable, nutritious, and convenient for many individuals.

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

Choosing the right medication is crucial for managing diabetes, improving overall health, and controlling weight loss. Signos' expert advice leverages continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology to provide personalized recommendations, helping you understand how your body responds to different foods, activities, and medications. This approach supports precise blood sugar management and empowers informed health decisions. For more information on how Signos can improve your health, you can read more about it here, explore Signos’ blog on glucose levels, or take a quick quiz to see if Signos is a good fit for you.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href=best-vegetables-for-diabetics>10 Best Vegetables for Diabetics</a>.</p>

Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • item 3
Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Topics discussed in this article:

References

  1. Potassium. Health Professionals Fact Sheet. Accessed June 13, 2024.
  2. Fu J, Zheng Y, Gao Y, Xu W. Dietary Fiber Intake and Gut Microbiota in Human Health. Microorganisms. 2022 Dec 18;10(12):2507. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10122507. PMID: 36557760; PMCID: PMC9787832.
  3. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. USDA. Accessed June 13, 2024.
  4. Are Canned Foods Nutritious for My Family? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Accessed June 13, 2024.

About the author

Caroline Thomason is a dietitian, diabetes educator, and health writer based in Washington, DC.

View Author Bio

Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

Interested in learning more about metabolic health and weight management?

Try Signos.