We all know that a canned meal or a microwaved one is a poor substitute for a real meal that we've cooked from fresh, but do you know why this is the case? There are many reasons that eating a canned meal is not as good, and several harmful substances that make them downright unhealthy for us.
Canned food is popular for its convenience, its affordability and its longevity. We tend to keep our canned food in the cupboard for a rainy day and then when we come home from a long day at work feeling tired and not motivated enough to want to spend the time necessary to cook up a lasagne or a roast meal we get them out and enjoy a full meal in two minutes with barely any washing up to do after.
In this capacity a canned meal is fine; it is only when we start eating them highly regularly that they become a problem. Here we will look at why.
Firstly, the majority of canned foods will contain highly large amounts of sodium (salt to you and me). This helps to increase the products shelf life and is part of what enables it to stay edible sometimes for years (sodium is a disinfectant and this is why we use salt water to clean wounds). It is also used in order to improve the flavour and to make up for the lack of fresh ingredients that create the great flavour when you cook yourself. However if you eat lots of tinned food then you will go over your RDA for salt (1,500 milligrams) and this can result in high blood pressure and heart problems. Of course some canned food is wise to this and contains lower amounts of sodium – seek these out if you want to enjoy a healthier meal with all the same convenience.
Fructose Corn Syrup
Fructose corn syrup is found in high quantities in a large proportion of canned foods (you may see it listed as just corn syrup, corn sweetener or corn syrup solids). This sweet syrup is used as an artificial sweeter and can increase your chances of diabetes, cause infection (via the growth of candida), result in low chromium (useful for controlling cholesterol and insulin) and increases our appetite making us eat more than we should (a result of the corn syrup triggering an 'insulin' response that uses up our available sugar without that sugar being replaced as it normally would be).
Bisphenol A is another ingredient used to increase the longevity of canned food. Also known as BPA, this chemical is currently undergoing trials to ascertain its safety and has been suggested to be linked to abnormal brain development in developing children and pregnant mothers in a study by the National Institute of Environmental Health in 2007. As such it would be wise for canned foods to be avoided in high quantities by these groups.