The Best And Worst Canned Foods, Ranked

When it comes to stocking your pantry, it’s extremely important to pay attention to the nutrition facts for each item. Some canned foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and more, while others can do serious harm to the body. If you’re still questioning which canned foods you and your family should be eating, here’s a helpful guide.

Best: Tomatoes

Some may choose to stay away from canned tomatoes out of fear of botulism or BPA. However, that usually occurs in low acid foods.

Canned tomatoes line the shelves of a pantry
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Also, BPA-lined cans are no longer used in tomato packing facilities in the United States. Tomatoes have several health benefits, including reducing risk of heart disease and cancer.

Worst: Pears

According to Medical News Today, pears come in over three thousand different varieties. However, when pears are packed into a can, the liquid that is used is very unhealthy.

Fruits with tin cans in bucket
Archive Photos/Getty Images
Archive Photos/Getty Images

It usually contains water, fiber, and fructose and the latter is extremely high in sugar. Canned pears packed in their own juice or light syrup usually have more sugar per serving than those packed in heavy syrup.

Best: Pumpkin

One of the healthiest canned foods people can buy is pumpkin. Gabrielle McGrath, a registered nutritionist, says that pumpkin has tons of health benefits.

Cans of Libby's Pumpkin sit on a packaging machine
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Those who buy cans of pumpkin puree without the additives should know that they are full of nutrients and antioxidants. These can boost the immune system, protect eyesight, and lower the risk of chronic disease.

Worst: Baked Beans

While several kinds of beans, such as kidney or pinto beans, have lots of health benefits, that doesn’t remain true for baked beans.

baked beans in a plastic container
Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Registered nutritionist Gabrielle McGrath wants people to avoid any baked beans that come in a can. This is because they are usually loaded with saturated fat, sugar, and unnecessary additives.

Best: Stone Fruits

For those who may not be aware, stone fruits are any fruit containing a large pit, including peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines.

a worker sorting canned peaches for export at a factory
AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

These have a relatively short season, so they become perishable a lot quicker. The cost of canned stoned fruits has risen, so keeping them in the pantry is economically savvy.

Worst: Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino cherries have become one of the most iconic dessert toppers, whether they be placed on ice cream sundaes, Shirley Temple drinks, or pies.

maraschino cherries on top of a pumpkin pie
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

By the time these cherries reach the jar or can, they are no longer real cherries. Their flavor, color, and sweet syrup are made up of a bunch of additives and chemicals.

Best: Chicken

While many canned meats usually have a high sodium content, there are a few that are actually quite healthy.

Hormel Foods Corp. canned chicken breast sits on display in a supermarket
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Canned chicken is packed with protein; as long as it is top quality. It’s important to choose brands of canned chicken that are known for being organic, pasture-raised, and packaged in water.

Worst: Sauces

Canned or jarred sauces ranging from flavors such as tomato and Alfredo can really do some damage.

Two large cans of Hunt's brand premium Pasta Sauce in garlic and herb and traditional favors in the kitchen
Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images
Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images

While these sauces are filled with rich flavors, they usually contain a ton of salt, added sugar, and saturated fat. If these are eaten regularly, they can possibly lead to chronic diseases including obesity or heart disease.

Best: Coconut Milk

One of the reasons people should consider getting their coconut milk in a can versus a carton is that cartons have more additives and sweeteners. They also have a thinner liquid texture.

can of coconut milk
Julia Ewan/The The Washington Post via Getty Images
Julia Ewan/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

Not only is coconut milk tasty, but it’s packed with antioxidants and antimicrobials, which prevent your body from contracting various diseases.

Worst: Apples

Healthline states that apples can improve bone health, protect against asthma, and prevent cancer. Canned apples aren’t so healthy.

slice of apple pie with ice cream
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

One serving of canned apple slices has over 30 grams of refined sugar. Apples are something that can be bought year-round, so it doesn’t make sense to buy them in cans.

Best: Lentils

Bri Bell, a registered dietician, recommends that everyone keep canned beans and lentils in their pantry. Legumes are one of the healthiest sources of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates.

canned lentils and spaetzle with sausage
Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images
Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images

Also, they make great additions to so many recipes such as soups, salads, chilis, and grain bowls. The most important thing to look out for in canned legumes is their salt content.

Worst: Pasta

Canned pasta is something that many people grew up eating because it’s quick and simple to make. Sadly, these delectable dishes are on the unhealthy side.

Various packaged canned pasta
Dorann Weber/Getty Images
Dorann Weber/Getty Images

Sofia Norton, a registered dietician, says that canned pasta is arguably one of the worst canned products of all time. It has high levels of preservatives, additives, salt, and sugar.

Best: Pineapple

Pineapples are one of the sweetest and juiciest fruits available and are usually picked right at the peak of the season. However, they can fall victim to negative external impacts that cause the price to fluctuate.

Pineapple slices on black background
Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images

This is why people should keep canned pineapple at home. Having it on hand will prevent you from dealing with inflated prices or rotten fruit.

Worst: Berries

Berries tend to be full of antioxidants, which is great for fighting chronic diseases such as heart disease or breast cancer.

Tinned strawberries, cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants and sliced peaches topped with Neapolitan ice cream
Chaloner Woods/Getty Images
Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

However, canned berries are a different story. These have tons of sugar that most should avoid. For example, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council found that a half cup of canned blueberries has 22 grams of sugar.

Best: Green Beans

Canned foods may get a reputation for being a processed food with no nutritional benefits, but there are plenty that are healthy.

The pantry is stocked with cans green beans
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Canned green beans are a perfect example. These tend to have low levels of salt and still have most of the same nutrients as fresh ones. Green beans are high in vitamin K and calcium as well.

Worst: Fruit Cocktail

One of the most iconic snacks in American culture is the fruit cocktail. Whether it be in the school cafeteria or at the dessert table, most have probably tried one.

GettyImages-1321538488
LIZ HAFALIA/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
LIZ HAFALIA/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

These have gone down in popularity for a good reason. Fruit cocktails are extremely high in sugar with one cup having the equivalent of 44.4 grams of sugar.

Best: Tuna

While tuna may not be the most fragrant food, it sure is healthy. Canned tuna is relatively cheap to buy at the grocery store and comes with many nutritional benefits.

close up of John West Tuna Chunks
Newscast/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Newscast/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There are high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are great for reducing cholesterol levels and keeping the arteries clear.

Worst: Sloppy Joe

During the 20th century, the Sloppy Joe sandwich was one of the most popular meal choices. The sandwich could be ready in less than 15 minutes and was quite delicious.

A close-up view of a sloppy joe sandwich
Tom Kelley/Getty Images
Tom Kelley/Getty Images

Canned Sloppy Joe sauce is made up of tomato puree, high fructose corn syrup, and other unhealthy additives. High intakes of fructose are linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance, and more.

Best: Sardines

Sardines may look a bit intimidating once the can is open, but they are actually one of the most nutritious canned foods available.

sardines in a can
Getty Images
Getty Images

The omega-3 fatty acids found in these fish can protect the cardiovascular system to keep the arteries free of blockage. Other oily fish that provide similar health benefits include salmon and mackerel.

Worst: Soup

Soup can be a thing of comfort. It may be something that can make you feel better when you’re sick or keep you warm during cold weather.

Cans of Campbell's tomato soup are displayed on a shelf
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Unfortunately, canned soup is a sodium bomb. Most cans have more than a day’s recommended serving of sodium. Instead, try making a soup from scratch where you can control all the ingredients.