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Are Canned Vegetables Healthy?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

It’s clear that eating plenty of vegetables is part of a nutritious and healthy diet. But are canned vegetables healthy? Did you know that not all veggies are the same and fresh might be much better for your health?


While canned vegetables seem convenient, they’re generally lower in nutrients and often contain preservatives and artificial additives.


Canning kills harmful bacteria and preserves vegetables for a long time, but choosing canned produce may not be the best choice for your health.

Canned produce

Canned vegetables vs. fresh vegetables


Most vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. If you are doing Healthy Keto®, you should aim for seven to ten cups of veggies per day, and there are many keto-approved vegetables on the Keto Food List you can choose from. 


Opt for fresh produce whenever possible. Fresh veggies are minimally processed and typically have a higher nutritional value than canned or frozen vegetables. 


Canning requires high heat to kill foodborne bacteria, which makes canned foods shelf-stable. However, water-soluble vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin C, are heat sensitive and break down during the canning process.


Canned foods have been found to have lower amounts of health-promoting antioxidants than fresh or frozen foods and can expose you to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to line metal food cans. Research found that BPA can leach into foods, is linked to an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, and may cause infertility.


Although extremely rare, damaged food cans can carry Clostridium botulinum, which is a neurotoxic bacteria that can cause food poisoning.


While this isn’t a significant health risk for most people, infants, pregnant women, and individuals with a compromised immune system can experience severe symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.


Watch the video below to learn more about why you should choose fresh veggies whenever possible.

Are canned vegetables keto-friendly?


Many canned foods—including green beans, asparagus, and mushrooms—are low-carb and won't affect your blood sugar balance. However, Healthy Keto focuses on high-quality, nutrient-rich, and minimally processed ingredients.


Canned vegetables don't meet Healthy Keto requirements. They're highly processed, contain fewer nutrients, and may expose you to artificial preservatives and harmful BPA.


And, what's more, canning can increase the glycemic load of specific foods, including canned tomatoes, beans, and pumpkins. Foods with a high glycemic load are more quickly absorbed, causing a rapid increase in blood sugar that can kick you out of ketosis.


While most canned vegetables have salt added to inhibit bacterial growth, some contain sugar to increase the shelf-life. Canned ginger, beets, peas, and carrots often contain added sugars and aren’t keto-friendly.

green beans

Key takeaways

Eating canned food is less healthy than choosing fresh produce. Canned vegetables are sterilized with high heat, which destroys health-promoting vitamins and antioxidants. Some canned foods contain artificial additives, preservatives, and BPA that may be harmful if consumed in large amounts.


To support your health, it’s best to avoid canned vegetables and opt for raw or slightly steamed keto-approved veggies instead.


FAQ


1. Can I have canned vegetables on keto?

Canned vegetables aren’t ideal for your Healthy Keto diet. They’re less nutritious than fresh vegetables and often contain artificial ingredients and preservatives that can be harmful if consumed in large amounts. 


Canning also increases the glycemic load of some vegetables, including tomatoes and pumpkins. These foods can affect your blood sugar and insulin levels and quickly kick you out of ketosis. 


2. Are canned vegetables good for you?

Canned vegetables are less nutritious than their fresh or frozen counterparts because canning destroys some nutrients, including water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants.


Canned foods often have a high sodium content which can be problematic for people with high blood pressure.


3. Do canned vegetables contain unhealthy additives?

Yes, canned vegetables can contain unhealthy additives. Canned goods often include artificial additives and preservatives to increase shelf-life.


Canned foods also can contain traces of bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially harmful chemical often used to coat the inside of food cans. Research suggests that BPA disrupts hormonal balance and may cause infertility, especially in men.


4. Are fresh vegetables more nutritious than canned?

Yes, fresh vegetables are minimally processed and generally contain more nutrients than canned versions.


5. How do canned vegetables stay fresh for years?

Canned fruits and vegetables are sterilized with high heat and sealed in air-tight cans. This prevents bacterial growth, keeping canned vegetables fresh for up to five years.


6. Which canned vegetables are healthiest?

It’s best to avoid canned foods as much as possible. If this isn’t an option, read labels to identify BPA-free, sugar-free, low-sodium products without artificial ingredients and preservatives.

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