WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We all know fruits and veggies do a body good. But did you know getting enough produce into your diet can improve your mood? That’s one claim that’s being made.
One way to get the recommended five to nine servings per day is through canned foods. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, before you throw some shade at their nutritional value compared to fresh, a registered dietitian offers some food for thought and a personal challenge.
“You kind of look for things that you can nuke and something quick, you know,” said Joe Kovalick of Plains Township.
He headed to the canned vegetable aisle at Schiel’s Family Market in Wilkes-Barre to buy something he’s never tried before: a can of tomatoes, okra and corn which he’ll keep handy in his kitchen.
“There’s always something and that’s what I look for. What have I got canned here,” Mr. Kovalick said.
It’s an easy way Mr. Kovalick works veggies into his diet. So Does Barbara Coffay of Wilkes-Barre.
“By the time I get home from work I just open up a can and you’re done,” Ms. Coffay said.
Even though some may frown on canned foods compared to fresh, registered dietitian Holley Grainger points to research showing the nutrient content is comparable.
“Fruits and vegetables are harvested at their peak ripeness and canned within four hours, sealing in their nutrition and flavor. That means that canned fruits and vegetables offer as much if not more nutritional value than their fresh or frozen counterparts,” she said.
The Can Manufacturers Institute claims consuming six or more canned foods per week not only can make you healthier, but also happier. The theory? Including enough fruits and veggies as part of a healthy diet can improve your mood.
Ms. Coffay said, “I’ll just make, like, the beans and I’ll have them for a couple days or something like that.” When pointed out to her that it’s a good source of fiber she said, “Yeah, which I’ve been told I need some more fiber in my life,” as she laughed.
It seems to work for her but she’s also careful to do some label looking. “To see, you know, like how much sodium and I try to cut back because I do buy the light salt now.”
Ms. Grainger has teamed up with the Can Manufacturers Institute initiative Cans Get You Cooking for what’s called The Happiness Challenge – a five day meal plan primarily using canned fruits and vegetables.
“And I tried it for myself. The result? My stress significantly decreased.” Some of the recipes in the Happiness Challenge include veggie frittatas, white chicken chili and even salmon burgers.