Natural Foods Merchandiser

Secret Shopper: Are there nutritional differences between dried and canned beans?

The question: Are there nutritional differences between dried and canned beans?

STORE: Independent natural foods store
in Birmingham, Ala.

NFM: Could you tell me whether there are any nutritional differences between these canned and dried organic pinto beans?

Store employee: [Giggle] Honestly, I have no idea.

NFM: Do you know why anyone would choose one over the other?

Store employee: Well, I’ve read that dried and frozen beans are better, but I really couldn’t tell you why. When you look at the nutritional data on the back, it shows that these canned beans have more sodium but a lot less dietary fiber and protein. The dried beans seem to have a lot more vitamins and minerals.

Comment: Seth Braun, a health and nutrition counselor with the Manhattan-based Institute for Integrative Nutrition

I like the employee’s honesty, but some training could keep her from confusing the customer with mixed messages—“I have no idea” versus “I have read that.”
The employee hit the nail on the head with sodium. As has been pointed out by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 80 percent of the sodium Americans eat does not come from the salt shaker. It is added in processed foods. This is an increasingly hot topic as consumers try to cut their daily salt intake. Another important thing to mention is that many cans are lined with bisphenol-A, an industrial chemical that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns about for its potential effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.
There are also a few non-nutritional-related facts worth pointing out: Bulk beans result in less waste, flavor-wise many people prefer dried beans to canned, and many bulk sections offer a greater variety. I only rely on canned beans in a pinch.

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