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Reducing sodium in canned beans is easy

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Have you been leery about purchasing canned food due to the sodium content? I have to admit that I have had some concerns myself until recently when I found the following information from the Department of Food Sciences and Technology at the University of Tennessee.

When the topic of canned food arises, people are sometimes surprised that nutritionally speaking, many canned foods are comparable to their cooked fresh and frozen counterparts. Studies have even shown that some canned foods yield higher amounts of essential nutrients. In addition, canned foods are available year-round, so people can easily and conveniently use them anytime in their favorite dishes.

These days, many companies are reducing the sodium in their foods. While it may have reduced sodium, the food item may not be “low in sodium.” In any case, it is important to understand where the sodium in a food product comes from by reading the ingredient lists and identifying sodium-containing ingredients (egg, baking soda [sodium bicarbonate], soy sauce, monosodium glutamate [MSG], brine).

Research shows that draining and rinsing are effective ways to reduce the sodium content of canned beans. Overall, draining alone reduced sodium by 36 percent while draining-and-rinsing the beans reduced sodium by 41 percent. Rinsing beans after they are drained ensures that all residual sodium adhering to the bean’s surface is removed and results in the highest reduction. All brands and all classes of beans tested demonstrated significant reductions in sodium by either draining or draining and rinsing.

Canned beans are full of fiber and rich in nutrients, and by draining-and-rinsing, the sodium content of canned beans can be reduced. The recipe below is a good example of how we can simply enjoy the many nutritional benefits of canned beans.

BLACK BEAN COUNTRY SALSA

  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (11-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 large jalape o pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime/lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently. Cover and chill. Serve with baked tortilla chips.

Yield: 7 cups

Nutrients per servings: 113 calories, 4 g. protein, 4 g. fat, 5 g. fiber, 16 g. carbohydrates, 315 mg sodium

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