Lindsay Watts, RDN
Have you ever heard the nutrition advice to “stick to the perimeter of the grocery store”? As a dietitian, this advice makes me cringe. I love discovering new products in every aisle of the supermarket and trying products that help me put healthy, delicious meals on the table quickly. Yes, the fresh departments in a supermarket have a lot to offer. Who doesn’t love to see a bounty of fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood, and a never-ending wall of yogurt? However, if you avoid entire departments in the store, you miss out on products that can help you or your clients achieve a healthy eating pattern more easily.
Read on for my top three evidence-based reasons why you should include packaged foods as part of a healthy eating pattern.
1. Packaged Foods Cut Down on Cooking Time
The average American only spends a total of 37 minutes on food preparation and clean up per day.1 This amount of time can vary based on economic status, gender, and age, but generally, people do not spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Even if people had an additional four hours each day, most would not spend it cooking, according to a survey by the International Food Information Council.2 Products like pre-packaged vegetables, tomato sauces, cooking sauces, and others can help home cooks get balanced meals on the table quickly so that they can spend more time with family and friends. Stock your pantry with reduced sodium broth and stock, canned poultry and fish, tomato sauces, cooking sauces, and more to cut back on prep and cooking times.
2. Packaged Foods Can Improve Diet Quality
Packaged foods can improve the quality of a person’s diet, especially when they provide fruits and vegetables. People who included canned fruits and vegetables in their eating pattern ate more fruits and vegetables compared to those who did not, according to a study based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Even better, people who ate canned fruits and vegetables had comparable levels of sugar and sodium intake compared to those who did not.3
Processing foods can also make phytonutrients, (naturally-occurring plant chemicals) more bioavailable. For example, we absorb carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene, better after they undergo heat processing. These phytonutrients are important antioxidants and can be found in carrot and tomato products like pasta sauce and 100% vegetable juice.4
3. Packaged Foods are Affordable and Accessible
Food cost is an important consideration for many families. One in eight people across the U.S. struggle with food insecurity and 43.1 million people live in poverty.5-6 An even larger portion of the population lives above the poverty level, but has a limited income.7 Packaged foods can provide a convenient, affordable way for people to include under consumed food groups in their diet. Processing extends the shelf life of foods so that families can stock up when they can get to the grocery store with less waste.
Both fresh and packaged foods play an important role in a healthy diet. Reach a healthy eating pattern that fits your budget, time constraints, and taste preferences from every aisle in the supermarket. Visit our Campbell Brand Sites to see which products best meet your individual needs. Check out our healthy eating plans for inspiration on how packaged and fresh foods fit in a healthy diet and try nutritious recipes that use products from every aisle. Learning how to make better choices throughout the store can set you up for success and help you to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Lindsay’s BioLindsay is a nutrition communications analyst at the Campbell Soup Company where she coordinates health professional and consumer communications. She also works with internal and external partners on retail health and wellness programs. Prior to her role at Campbell, Lindsay worked as an in-store retail dietitian. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University and completed her dietetic internship with Pennsylvania State University.
- USDA Economic Research Service. Published 11/7/2016. Accessed 6/10/17. Available at: https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2016/november/americans-spend-an-average-of-37-minutes-a-day-preparing-and-serving-food-and-cleaning-up/
- 2017 Health and Food Survey. International Food Information Council. Published May 16, 2017. Accessed June 10, 2017. Available at: http://www.foodinsight.org/sites/default/files/2017_Food_and_Health_Survey_-_Final_Report-rev.pdf
- Freedman MR, Victor FL. Canned Vegetable and Fruit Consumption is Associated with Changes in Nutrient Intake and Higher Diet Quality in Children and Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2010. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. June 2016 Vol 116(6) pg 940-948.
- Phytochemical Information Center. Produce for Better Health Foundation. Available at http://www.pbhfoundation.org/about/res/pic/faqs/#faq7 Accessed June 10, 2017.
- Income and Poverty in the U.S.: 2015. United States Census Bureau. Published September 2016. Accessed June 8, 2017. Available at: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-256.pdf
- Poverty Guidelines. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed June 8, 2017. Available at https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. USDA Food and Nutrition Services. Accessed June 8, 2017. Available at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility