“To can or not to can”...that’s what Hamlet should have been asking. But I won’t dare rewrite Shakespeare, instead, I will ask whether canned food should have a place in your healthy gourmet kitchen.
I am working with the California Cling Peach Board, so I wanted to figure out their health benefits. I already know that I love peaches, and waiting 11 months for my fix isn’t fun, so in the winter months, I find myself turning to the canned variety.
Here is what I discovered: canned peaches (which are picked ripe, at their peak) deliver a promising amount of nutrients that are actually enhanced by the canning process. Vitamin A, folate, lycopene and some anti-oxidants are made more bioavailable by the heating and canning process. But the truly impressive nutrient is Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble anti-inflammatory, anti-aging nutrient that is usually associated with nuts and seeds. And while those little bites are great for you, a small handful is all you can eat each day because of their caloric punch. Fruit sources, on the other hand, can be layered in without worry and consumed in satisfyingly high amounts.
There is even research to support that the canning process actually enhances the eye-protecting nutrients of leutin and zeaxanthan, as well as lycopene.
Some of the other cans that I always have on hand include:
February was National Canned Food Month and March is Nutrition Month, and I see no reason why the two can’t get along.
Curried Peach Pork Tenderloin
This is one of those mildly curried dishes that takes no time to prepare and is a family-friendly quickie.
Makes 4 servings
Takes: 30 minutes
Recipe developed by Theresa Albert
Prep and Cook
Labels are critical to help you keep track of your things. The same is true of the food labels that appear on every package in North American grocery stores, and those labels are subject to certain standards under the law.
There are also private labeling systems in place. The Health Check System in Canada, which is a Heart and Stroke Foundation initiative, comes to mind as one that hasn’t lived up to rigorous enough standards.
In the US, there is the Hannaford Guiding Stars System, which is now implemented in Loblaw’s stores in Canada. It’s a ‘quick peek’ rating system to help customers identify the healthier products. Each product is given a rating of one, two, or three stars by a third-party panel of experts. Points are weighted according to the presence of positive attributes (like protein and fibre) and the absence of negative (white sugar, flour, salt, fat, etc.). It is a great quick way to help you pick up the best in class.
No matter the rating system on the product, once you get your products home, take the time to actually read the label and focus on:
Most of your nutrients will actually be coming from whole foods, so be sure that this is also where most of your calories come from and you will be right on track.
Image of reading a nutrition label from Shutterstock