Best Low-Carb Canned Soups, Sauces, and More

Opened Can of Sardines
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While it’s great to eat fresh food as often as you can, canned goods are a versatile pantry staple. Low-carb canned soups can be quick meals on their own or used as ingredients in other dishes.

Some canned goods are better choices than others, especially if you’re following a specific diet. Low carb canned goods exist, but carbs aren't the only nutrition info you should pay attention to.

Canned goods like pasta sauce, pumpkin puree, and salsa are among the products most likely to have added sugar, and many canned soups are very high in sodium.

Here's how to find the canned goods to stock your pantry with—and how to know which to avoid.

Seafood

Buying seafood in resealable pouches makes easy low-calorie, high-protein snacks. These pouches are often packaged in oil and water to preserve consistency, but some also come with sauces for taste.

While the foods themselves may not be sweet (and are often savory), sauces are a common source of added sugar.

For example, single-serve pouches of Starkist Chunk Light Tuna in Water or Bumblebee’s Albacore Tuna in Water don’t have any sugar.

Both brands also have a line of flavored products.

You can purchase many varieties of pre-packaged sardines, anchovies, tuna, salmon, and crab without any added sauce.

Soups

Most packaged soups and stocks are high in sodium. In addition to having a lot of salt, canned soups don’t usually have much protein. High amounts of sodium with no filling protein can promote sugar cravings and may not effectively satisfy your hunger.

Sodium content will vary according to the type of soup and the brand, so read nutrition labels carefully. Keep in mind most canned soups contain more than one serving. If you usually eat a can as a meal, be sure to factor in the serving size when you’re reviewing the soup’s nutritional information.

The sodium content in some popular brands of canned soup include:

Many brands offer reduced sodium versions of their most popular products, including:

Stocks and broth are another pantry staple you can use for cooking or sipping. Like canned soups, popular brands of chicken, beef, vegetable, and bone broth usually offer low-sodium versions.

Whether you get the original or reduced sodium variety, check the carton, can, or jar to compare nutrition information between brands.

Here’s an example comparison of sodium content for several popular brands of chicken broth.

Original

Low Sodium

Sauces

Sauces add flavor to many dishes but can also add calories, carbs, salt, and even sugar.

While you’ll have more control over the ingredients if you make your own pesto or pasta sauce at home, if you’re stocking up on store-bought options, look for sauces and pastes that are low in sodium and no added sugars, such as:

Salsa and tomato paste can also be high in salt. The sodium content of a few of the most popular salsa brands include:

Look for low-sodium versions or consider making your own salsa at home.

Milk Products

For baking needs, products like canned milk are typically high in sugar. While you won't find a specific product called "unsweetened condensed milk," that's the basic principle of evaporated milk. Evaporated milk may also come in low-fat or fat-free varieties.

Nestle Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk has 22 grams of sugar and carbohydrates per serving. The brand's classic evaporated milk has 3 grams of sugar and carbohydrate per serving.

While it won't reduce your sugar or carb intake, Nestle also offers low-fat and fat-free evaporated milk options with fewer calories.

Fruit, Vegetables, and Legumes

Canned fruit, vegetables, and beans are affordable, versatile, and can be stored for a long time. As with other canned foods, look for options that are low in sodium, don’t have added sugar, and are packed in a way (water, oil, sauces, etc.) that suits your tastes and preferences.

Specific nutrition information will vary by brand, but here are a few examples of the most popular fruits, vegetables, and legumes you can buy in cans or jars.

Vegetables

Look for low-carb vegetables and note other ingredients in the can. For example, rinse canned roasted red peppers if they've been packed in sugar, and you may be able to save on sugar if you puree pumpkin yourself.

Beans

Beans are one of the most popular canned foods and often the most affordable, especially if you buy in bulk. Everything from black beans to black soybeans make great additions to low-carb, high-protein meals or even work as a quick, filling dish on their own.

Many brands offer low-sodium options for their popular products, including:

Fruit

In general, look for low-carb canned fruits with no added sugar. Seasonal items like cranberry sauce can be tricky, as these products are typically sweetened to offset the natural tart taste of the cranberries.

Some brands of whole cranberry sauce, as opposed to jellied, can be lower in sugar: for example, Ocean Spray's Jellied Cranberry Sauce has 24 grams of sugar, while its Whole Cranberry Sauce has 22 grams.

If you make cranberry sauce at home, you can control how much sugar is used. There are even recipes for sugar-free cranberry sauce.

There are several alternatives to dairy milk that can be used for cooking and baking, depending on your dietary needs and preferences.

One-third cup of Thai Kitchen's Organic Lite Coconut Milk has 50 calories, 5 mg of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrate, and no sugar.

Canned fruit, as well as fruit cups, are often packed in syrup (including high-fructose corn syrup). Most brands offer versions that are not, but closely check the label to ensure the fruit has been packed in water or its own juice.

You can also make your own fruit cups. In fact, while it's a little more labor intensive than going to the grocery store, you can even learn how to preserve and can food at home.

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Article Sources

  • National Center for Home Food Preservation. Frequently Asked Questions. The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences https://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html

  • Nestlé New Zealand. What is Evaporated Milk? CARNATION Brand. https://www.nestle.co.nz/brands/whatisevaporatedmilk.

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Health Facts: Sodium and Potassium. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/toolkit/healthfacts/sodium.htm. Published 2008.