7 of the Healthiest Canned Foods to Keep in Your Pantry, According to RDs

Want to stock your shelves for quick, nutritious meals? Look no further than these non-perishable favorites.

The past year has reminded us of the importance of stocking your pantry with healthy, shelf-stable canned food for putting together a nutritious meal without a trip to the grocery store—you know, in case of an emergency (or a global pandemic). But not all non-perishable pantry goods are technically healthy for you (we're looking at you, packaged cookies, sugary cereals, and sodium-laden soups). When it comes to healthy canned items, you want to look at food labels to ensure you're avoiding overly processed foods and skipping items with excessive added sugar and salt. In general, the fewer ingredients listed, the better for you that item is.

It might surprise you, but canned goods can often be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts in the produce section. "Buying canned goods typically provides equal value nutrition-wise compared to fresh items," says Leslie Bobo, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Los Angeles. "Most of these items are canned right after being harvested, and they do not lose nutrients in the canning process."

Canned food can also be more accessible, and often more affordable, to those who don't have access to fresh produce year-round, adds Bobo. Canned goods have a longer shelf life, too, which can encourage creativity and flexibility in the kitchen. Read on for expert recommendations on the healthiest types of canned food you should stock up on (and check out professional chefs' favorite canned and frozen foods to inspire you even more).

01 of 07

Canned Black Beans

Canned black beans have 8 grams of protein per half-cup serving and are an excellent source of fiber, with 9.1 grams per serving. That makes them a pantry staple to use in everything from quinoa bowls to soups to tacos and burritos, says Mary Waddill, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and product compliance and nutrition analyst with Whole Foods Market based in Austin, Texas. Reach for low-sodium varieties and rinse them before use to further reduce the salt.

RELATED: Kidney Beans Are Full of Plant-Fueled Benefits—Here's Why RDs Highly Recommend Them

02 of 07

Canned Peaches

An easy fruit staple to keep in your pantry, canned peaches are great to top yogurt bowls and salads, and you can use the juice as a replacement for sugary syrups on pancakes or ice cream. Look for canned peaches (or other fruits such as mandarin oranges and pineapple chunks) packed in their own juice to minimize added sugar, says Waddill. (Read up on more health benefits of peaches here.)

03 of 07

Crushed Tomatoes

Harvested, pureed, and packed at peak ripeness, canned crushed tomatoes make an easy, healthy base for homemade soups and pasta sauces while letting you control the added salt, says Waddill. They pack in a variety of nutrients found in fresh tomatoes, like vitamin C and lycopene. Choose a can that says "no salt added" to avoid extra sodium.

RELATED: 7 Delicious Ways to Eat More Immunity-Boosting Vitamin C

04 of 07

Canned Pumpkin

Most people think of canned pumpkin in the fall, but Bobo says she keeps it stocked in her pantry year-round. Pumpkin puree is high in vitamins A and C and especially fiber (with 3 grams per half-cup) and also makes a great substitute for butter in baking (note: steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mix, which is loaded with added sugar). Bobo recommends keeping some canned pumpkin frozen in silicone ice trays to throw into smoothies for added nutrients.

05 of 07

Canned Salmon

Fresh salmon, while delicious, can get expensive and spoils quickly. Not only does canned salmon last longer, but you'll reap all the same nutritional benefits—like vitamins D and B-12—as with fresh, says Bobo. Toss canned salmon on top of salads or use it to make easy salmon patties for dinner.

06 of 07

Canned Artichoke Hearts

Bobo calls canned artichokes "extremely underrated," and for good reason. They're high in complex carbohydrates packed with inulin, a starchy fiber that acts as a prebiotic to support a healthy gut, says Bobo. Artichokes are also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, like cynarin and silymarin. Bobo recommends roasting canned artichokes as "chips" for dips, incorporating them into healthier dips, or adding them to homemade pizzas.

RELATED: 4 Surprising Artichoke Recipes

07 of 07

Canned Chickpeas

Considered a legume, chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) have been spiking in popularity in recent years. And that's a good thing, as they're packed with healthy protein (about 12 grams per cup) and healthy fats, says Bobo. The type of fat found in legumes is essential for absorbing some vitamins, meaning adding a scoop of hummus made with chickpeas to your plate could be even more beneficial than you'd thought, she adds. You can even make dessert with chickpeas.

RELATED: 10 Healthy Pantry Essentials You Should Always Have on Hand, According to RDs

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