Vegetables are a key part of your healthy eating plan because they have essential vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy. Canned vegetables can be a nutritious option when your favorite fresh vegetables are too expensive or when they aren't in season. But they can contain up to one-fifth of the sodium you need for the whole day in just one serving. Too much sodium can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, but a few simple tricks can cut the salt.
Drain the liquid in the can into your sink. Most of the sodium in canned vegetables is in the liquid used to can them and simply draining them can reduce how much you consume.
Set a clean colander into the kitchen sink. Dump the canned vegetables into the colander.
Rinse the vegetables with a steady stream of cool water for 1 minute. Rinsing the canned vegetables will rinse away a significant amount of the sodium that they contain.
Drain the canned vegetables in the colander for at least 2 minutes.
Heat the canned vegetables in fresh water or steam them until piping hot after they have finished draining.
- Rinsing and draining canned vegetables can reduce the sodium content by as much as 30 to 40 percent, according to the Clemson Cooperative Extension.
- Look for reduced-sodium or low-sodium canned vegetables at your local supermarket. These varieties can contain far less salt than traditional canned vegetables. Many grocery stores stock no-salt-added canned vegetables, and they're your best bet.
- Flavor your canned vegetables with herbs and spices to replace the flavor lost when you get rid of the salt. Shake dried herbs, such as garlic powder or thyme, over canned vegetables while you're cooking them. Add fresh herbs, such as parsley or dill, after the vegetables are cooked as another way to enhance their flavor.
- Rinsing canned vegetables might reduce their nutrient content as well as their sodium content, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Choose no-salt-added vegetables that you don't have to rinse to avoid this.
- Don't cook your canned vegetables in the liquid used to can them unless you choose no-salt varieties, because you'll still take in a large amount of salt.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.