Processed food with nutritional appeal

  • Article by: From news services
  • Updated: October 8, 2011 - 4:44 PM

Some processed and packaged foods make healthful additions to your diet.

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Yoplait yogurt.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Here are foods that, although processed and packaged, pack a nutritional wallop. Bonus: Most are pretty easy on the wallet.

Yogurt: The process used to make yogurt is probably also what makes it so good for you. In addition to the calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals yogurt delivers, the active bacteria cultures that give it its tangy taste are probiotics that are thought to provide digestive health benefits.

Canned beans: Beans are an excellent source of protein (especially for those who don't eat meat) and fiber. Sure, you can buy, dry and soak them (thereby processing them yourself). But you can't beat the convenience of canned. Look for reduced-sodium brands, or drain and rinse your beans before eating.

Jarred spaghetti sauce: The process of cooking actually improves the quality of the antioxidant carotenoids that give tomatoes their color, making jarred sauce a healthful choice. Such sauces usually are seasoned with herbs, which add vitamins and minerals such as potassium.

Oatmeal: Steel-cut or simply rolled, processed oats are excellent sources of dietary fiber and can help lower your cholesterol.

Canned salmon: We're all supposed to be eating more fish -- at least two 4-ounce servings a week, according to federal dietary guidelines -- and fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna are tops because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. But buying fresh fish can get expensive. Canned varieties provide the same nutrition.

Peanut butter: Another great source of protein and heart-healthy fats, this tasty, versatile spread is best when made simply with finely ground peanuts.

Frozen vegetables: Vegetables harvested at their peak and immediately frozen retain all their nutritional value, allowing us to enjoy their benefits year round. They're often less expensive than fresh produce, too.

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