By Canned Food Alliance, Special for USDR
The Canned Food Alliance (CFA) applauds the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture for their hard work in providing new, science-based Dietary Guidelines for Americans, specifically including recommendations for a higher intake of all forms of fruits, vegetables, seafood and legumes, including canned varieties. Canned foods offer many benefits, including nutrition, convenience, affordability, year-round availability and sustainability.
Many U.S. children and adults fall short of meeting the recommendations set forth in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Canned foods often provide needed nutrients at a lower cost than fresh, frozen or dried forms, particularly when price, waste and time to prepare are considered.
- Canned foods are among top sources of “shortfall nutrients” like vitamin D (e.g. canned salmon, tuna), potassium (e.g. canned tomato products, beans, spinach), fiber (e.g. canned beans, pumpkin) and iron (e.g. canned coconut milk, sardines, chili with beans).
- Canned beans such as kidney, black or garbanzo beans are easy to prepare and provide a good source of protein, fiber and calcium. In fact, a serving of canned beans provides 20 percent or more of daily fiber needs.
- Many Americans find it difficult to afford and have limited access to fresh seafood options. Canned seafood, such as tuna and salmon, offers a convenient and cost-effective way to help meet the recommendations.
- Recent research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows children and adults who consume canned fruits and vegetables have better diets, greater overall fruit and vegetable consumption and increased intake of key nutrients – without compromising sodium intake or weight – compared to those who did not consume canned fruits and vegetables. In the study based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001-2010, which includes information on the eating habits of 41,800 Americans, adults who ate canned varieties saw an increase in the amount of dietary fiber and potassium. Children who ate canned fruits and vegetables consumed a diet higher in nutrients necessary for optimal growth and development, including protein, fiber, vitamin A, calcium and potassium, compared to those who did not include canned varieties in their diets.
Regarding the recommendation to limit added sugar and sodium, CFA members share the concerns reflected in the Dietary Guidelines about the majority of the U.S. population falling short on key nutrients and are committed to providing a variety of nutritious options to meet different dietary needs. As a result, the canned food industry now provides ‘reduced,’ ‘low,’ and ‘no’ sodium canned vegetables and beans and fruit packed in water or 100 percent juice, thus providing a full range of products for those consumers looking to control their sodium and sugar intake.
A recent survey, commissioned by Produce for Better Health Foundation, found the way dietary recommendations are communicated has an impact on perceptions and purchase intent. Strongly and consistently reinforcing the healthfulness of fruits and vegetables regardless of form, results in positive consumer perceptions of packaged fruits and vegetables. Language that over-emphasizes the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and devalues packaged forms, detracts from the perceived healthfulness of packaged fruits and vegetables. Educational tools (such as MyPlate messages, WIC guidelines and handouts provided by groups like CDC and USDA) around the guidelines should encourage the consumption of all forms of fruits, vegetables and beans, enabling people to increase their intake and make positive food choices.
About the Canned Food Alliance
The Canned Food Alliance, a National Strategic Partner of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, is a consortium of steelmakers, can manufacturers, food processors and affiliate members. For more information about canned food research, facts, resources, the canning process, family mealtime solutions, recipes that use canned foods and more, visit Mealtime.org or follow us on Facebook at Canned Food Alliance or on Twitter @CannedFoodFan.