Top 5 Foods (Almost) As Good Canned As Fresh

Sometimes in the can is better than off the vine.
Sometimes in the can is better than off the vine.
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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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