Many people around the world believe that eating canned food can be bad for your health. Some people claim that canned foods simply are less nutritious compared to fresh foods whereas others believe that the actual packaging may negatively affect the food inside. There are plenty of claims out there stating that canned food is less healthy, however, most of these have not been based on scientific data. This leaves us with the question; does canned food really affect our health?
Canning is the process of storing food inside an airtight tin can. In today’s world, canned food is highly popular. The main reason behind this lies in the fact that canned foods have a shelf life of up to 5 years longer compared to fresh food. The type of foods that most commonly come inside a tin can include fruits, vegetables, soups, and meat.
When talking about canned food, many people tend to believe that they are less nutritious. Recent studies, however, show us that this is far from the truth. It was shown that, in most cases, foods that have been canned do not contain fewer nutrients. Actually, it has been proven that canning allows foods to preserve their nutrients in a much more efficient manner than other wrappings.
Tests have shown that all the most important nutrients such as protein, carbs, fat, and most minerals and vitamins are preserved after the food has been canned. This means that, even if you consume the food after 5 years, most of its nutrient levels are still the same. In some cases, canned foods can even be healthier. When tomatoes or corn is canned, for example, they are known to release more antioxidants compared to when they are sold fresh—thus making them a better source of antioxidants. Although some water-based vitamins such as vitamin B and C can get lost in the process of canning, most other nutrients stay perfectly intact. Therefore, it can be safely stated that, in most cases, claims based on the assumption that canned foods are less nutrient are nothing more than a myth.
But what about the can wrapping itself? There are people who believe that tin cans affect the quality of the food inside. Most people who say so base their claims on the fact that the tin cans may contain unhealthy chemicals such as Bisphenol-A in the form of a coating. This is especially the case with larger soup cans and tins used to store fruits and vegetables.
It is believed that such tin cans that contain a BPA coating may leak chemicals into their content, thus affecting the quality of the food inside. Once the BPA has leaked into the food, it can enter a person’s body upon consumption. Previous studies conducted on the presence of BPA in food containers show that people who consume one serving of canned food per day undergo an increase of 1,000 percent in their body’s BPA levels. These results are staggering on their own but does it give us a reason to worry?
The truth is that the real health effects and dangers of BPA are still up for debate. Although numerous studies on the topic have been performed, many health care professionals do not agree on the real dangers of this chemical. Some doctors and scientists claim that the exposure to small amounts of BPA is harmless. Others believe that we should stay away from it altogether. Although we cannot be certain about the dangers of BPA, several international health organizations and even national governments advise us to be cautious. Some governments even took measures by banning the use of BPA coatings and plastics in certain products such as baby bottles. Therefore, it seems that there is plenty of reason to try and minimize your exposure to BPA.
Luckily for us, more and more companies who produce packaging materials are becoming aware of the potential dangers that this chemical brings along. As of such, many packaging companies are making a switch to producing BPA-free wrappings. Most small metal containers used for candy and cosmetics are already 100 percent BPA-free. There even are certain types of plastics that do not contain any traces of this chemical. With larger food cans, however, you should still be careful. Many large tin cans such as the ones used for soups, vegetables, and fruits still come with a BPA coating.
So, are canned foods bad for our health and can we still safely eat them? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Most claims based on the assumption that canned foods contain fewer nutrients are likely to be false. However, if you are talking about the potential risks that the can packaging itself may bring along in terms of chemicals entering your body, these can be real. If you are afraid of BPA or other chemicals, it would be a smart idea to buy food that is stored in BPA-free cans or to stay away from canned food altogether. Generally speaking, however, there is little to worry about and it can be safely stated that canned foods are healthy, nutritious, and safe for consumption.
When Wouter Wargerink isn’t blogging about the latest packaging trends, he is busy with his job as an Online Marketing Specialist and with launching uCan-Packaging, an online wholesale website for food-grade and BPA-Free tin containers.