Top 5 Foods (Almost) As Good Canned As Fresh

Canned Tomatoes.jpg
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Sometimes in the can is better than off the vine.
Canned foods get a bad rap, and for good reason. They're often high in sodium, lower in nutrients and less flavorful. Sometimes, however, the "real" or "fresh" version is only infinitesimally better, and if you don't plan on using all or most of a particular ingredient immediately, canned may be more convenient, economical and healthful in the long run. Here are five foods that are nearly as good canned as fresh.

5. Green Beans

Fresh green beans are an excellent source of Vitamin C, but after one week the concentration of said vitamin significantly decreases. The canned variety maintains near-constant high levels of nutrients and maintains its texture and flavor better than frozen green beans.

4. Tuna

Nothing beats a lightly seared tuna steak; however, if you're looking for a more sandwich-friendly supply of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, reach for the Bumble Bee. You can stock up without worrying about shelf life, and maybe even kick it old-school with some Tuna Helper.

3. Pinto Beans

I once met a woman who said she liked using dried beans because it felt "more rustic." Right. For the rest of us who don't harbor such misplaced nostalgia for the good old days on the farm, go for beans in a can. Pinto beans win the special prize because both canned and fresh require equal cooking time and produce equally tasty results.

2. Tomatoes

In this case, canned may actually trump fresh. According to some studies, canned tomatoes are higher in lycopene, making them a richer source of antioxidants and cancer-fighting agents. Although it still feels wrong to dump canned tomatoes on a salad, I wouldn't hesitate to use them when making pizza sauce, salsa or marinara.

1. Pumpkin

Knowing my history, are you surprised this is number one? When pumpkins are in season, I always fantasize about making one of those really cool stews served in the squash itself. Then I remember using canned pumpkin will save me enough time to watch at least two episodes of Breaking Bad. One of these days, I will use the fresh pumpkin in a pie, but for now I can still host a "Thanksgiving in June" dinner thanks to the canned stuff.

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gossamersixteen topcommenter

I avoid all things canned, that's why they have frozen foods sans the taste of the metallic can.. Maybe tomato paste, but that's it.. Canned meat and fish, heck to the nah.


Canned Corn is the best canned vegetable.


Avoid canned tomatoes (from

1. Canned Tomatoes

Fredrick Vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A, gives us the scoop:

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.


Green beans and Tuna are ALWAYS better fresh!! Everything is better fresh, but I'llI agree to take my beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin canned.


 @thorwilliams1 Interesting. There are, as I'm sure aware, about 100 other studies published on the internet about the specific benefits of canned tomatoes without mention of the deleterious impact of the cans. Might I venture to say the definite enhanced lycopene content trumps the potential excessive exposure to BPA?

FattyFatBastard topcommenter


 Canned Soda is far worse, and I grew up drinking the stuff daily.  This is crap to anyone who isn't a hypochondriac.  I can provide links to prove this is crap, if you'd like.


 @thorwilliams1 wow. great advice!  seems it would be true for all vegetables.  glass bottles... and i am loving trader joe's

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @bodl I keep a stash of tomatoes and corn in the cupboard for those times when just can't make a trip to the grocery, but I'm totally with you. Fresh is better.  Canned green beans, peas, and carrots don't taste anything like the real product.


Hanabi-chan topcommenter

Have to agree with you on the green beans bodl. I usually buy about a pound and steam  about half a pound for a night's dinner, then add a pinch of kosher salt after they are done for a bit of flavoring. (Or like my kid did the other night: Steamed the green beans, then did a quick stir fry with the beans, carrots and yellow onion seasoned with salt, pepper, a dash of teriyaki, garlic powder and honey. Delicious!)  


Joanna: I would love to try to use fresh pumpkin, but getting that pumpkin out of the shell looks like a messy proposition. I also prefer fresh tomatos, hell I snack on cherry tomatoes, but in a pinch I won't turn my back on canned tomatoes.


 @Hanabi-chan Just for what it's worth, my wife made pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin and, while it involved considerably more effort to make, the texture and the flavor were much better than the canned stuff.  Was it worth it? Like most things, it depends on what tradeoffs you want (or have) to make.




"Like most things, it depends on what tradeoffs you want (or have) to make."


Very true. And I would like more of an effort this fall to devote one of the many "crucial" hours I spend stalking people on facebook to assembling baking ingredients the good old-fashioned fresh way.

Hanabi-chan topcommenter

I am sure that making a pie the way your wife did produced a much tastier product.   If I had the time to try it, I might. But me being me, I suspect there would be more pumpkin on my person and kitchen floor than in the pie pan. :)

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