7 Worst Canned Foods You Can Buy

Large assortment of canned foods


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Canned Goods

Hold On to Your Can Opener!

You can thank Napoleon Bonaparte for the modern pantry staple that is canned food. Looking for a way to feed his troops on the move, Napoleon offered a prize for a method to preserve food, leading to the invention of canning. While this technique has proven invaluable, making nutritious options like canned tomatoes a kitchen essential, we have gone overboard with canning, and some canned foods have no place in your pantry. Here are the seven worst canned foods you should avoid buying. 

Related: 27 Unusual Canned Foods You Might Actually Want to Eat

fruit cocktail in a can
iStock / BWFolsom

1. Fruit Cocktail

Many of us have been tempted when craving an out-of-the-season fruit to reach for the colorful can of fruit cocktail. However, according to studies, this is a temptation you should resist, especially if you are mindful of your sugar intake. Canned fruit cocktails are often soaked in heavy syrup, adding unnecessary sugar and calories to what should be a healthy snack. Additionally, the fruit loses much of its nutritional value during the canning process, and the texture can become mushy and unappealing. Avoid cans labeled "No Added Sugars" as well, as they are often packed with artificial sweeteners, which are detrimental to your gut and metabolic health.  

Related: 10 Fruits You Should NEVER Refrigerate

Canned Refried Beans
jfmdesign / iStock

2. Canned Refried Beans

Canned refried beans is what happens when you take perfectly good beans and strip them of all dignity. These mushy, pasty blobs pack enough sodium to preserve a mummy and the added fats, often in the form of lard or hydrogenated oils, can increase your intake of unhealthy trans fats.

Spaghetti in a can
chameleonseye / iStock

3. Canned Precooked Pasta

Every American kid who grew up in the '80s and '90s has big feelings about SpaghettiOs — those circles of pasta swimming in a suspiciously bright orange sauce. But nostalgia aside, any kind of canned pasta is a bad option for kids and adults alike. It's packed with sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. And seriously, cooking pasta is as easy as boiling water.

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Kirkland Solid White Albacore Tuna

4. White Tuna

America loves its tuna, with roughly 1 billion pounds consumed annually, according to the National Fisheries Institute. Canned tuna, in particular, is the nation's second most popular seafood product after shrimp. While its convenience and ability to retain flavor and freshness are undeniable, there's a significant reason to reduce your intake: the amount of mercury you're potentially ingesting.

White tuna, commonly sourced from albacore, is particularly problematic when it comes to mercury content. This type of canned tuna can have almost triple the amount of mercury compared to other varieties. Consuming too much mercury can cause serious health problems. 

vienna sausage

5. Canned Vienna Sausages

Canned Vienna sausages might seem like a convenient snack, but these tiny sausages are packed with sodium, nitrates, and preservatives to ensure they last forever on the shelf — probably not a good sign for something you plan to eat. They also have nearly twice as much fat as protein, making them far from a lean option. 

If you’re looking for a protein-packed snack, there are far better options out there that don’t involve a can opener and a side of regret. 

Campbell's soup

6. Canned Soup

Remember when we thought canned soup was a nutritious meal? That was cute. This sodium bomb disguised as a comfort food staple is basically just salt water with a few sad, overcooked veggies floating in it for decoration. While it can be a quick and easy meal option, canned soup often comes with a hefty dose of sodium and preservatives. Many varieties also contain added sugars and trans fats to enhance flavor and shelf life. 

Making soup from scratch is not only healthier but also more flavorful and satisfying. 

Related: 30 Easy Soup Recipes That Last for Days

Corned Beef
Kolforn / Wikimedia Commons

7. Corned Beef

Canned corned beef might bring back nostalgic memories of quick meals, but it’s far from a health-conscious choice. Unlike the fresh brisket corned beef you find at the deli, canned versions often use lower-quality cuts of meat. While the term "corned" might evoke images of sweet corn, it actually refers to the large grains of rock salt used in the preservation process. These cuts are brined in salt and spices, which not only affects the taste but also significantly increases the sodium content, which is linked to elevated blood pressure and heart disease. Additionally, processed meat comes with an increased risk of cancer.