TheCooperized_February2018-BlogFebruary is Canned Food Month, a perfect time to take a closer look at the nutrition behind canned foods. Many patients who visit Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services are convinced all canned foods should be avoided. But not all canned foods are created equal.

Our registered dietitian nutritionists address the pros and cons of canned foods and why you shouldn’t completely avoid the canned food aisle at your grocery store.

 Pros and Cons of Canned Food


  • Convenient
  • Less expensive
  • Desirable taste


  • May be high in sodium
  • May have added ingredients

The Truth about Sodium

Canned foods can often be higher in sodium than fresh or frozen. When trying to be mindful of your nutrition choices, it’s important to consider sodium content. This is especially true if you have a chronic medical condition such as high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes.

In general, Cooper Clinic recommends limiting your sodium intake to 1,500-2,300 mg/day. Remember, it’s important to discuss your specific sodium needs with a registered dietitian nutritionist to learn what is most appropriate for you.

Choose Wisely

For the purpose of this article, our registered dietitian nutritionists compared potassium, folate, magnesium and fiber in pinto beans.

Canned Pinto Beans:


Per ½ cup



Regular, rinsed,


Regular, not



Sodium (mg)








Potassium (mg)








Folate (mcg)








Magnesium (mg)








Fiber (g)







Why Rinse and Drain?

Of the three choices, your best option is the reduced-sodium pinto beans.

However, if you can’t find a low-sodium version, rinsing and draining the fluid first can lower the sodium by 41 percent. In this case, rinsing and draining the pinto beans slashed the sodium by more than half. Another bonus─you don’t lose any fiber along the way.

On the flipside, some nutrients such as potassium, folate and magnesium, can be lost as these water-soluble vitamins get leached out in the rinsed fluid.

Bottom Line

Not all canned foods should be banned. Purchase “no salt added,” “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” when available or take the quick and easy step of rinsing and draining the fluid first.

For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655.

 Blog provided by: Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE