Best Low-Carb Canned Soups, Sauces, and More

Opened Can of Sardines
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While it’s great to eat freshly prepared food most of the time, canned goods are a versatile pantry staple. Low-carb canned soups serve as quick meals on their own or may be used as ingredients in other dishes.

Sugar and Sodium

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, including soups, pasta sauce, and prepared meals are among those most likely to contain added sugar. Many are also very high in sodium. Here's how to find the best canned goods to stock your pantry with—and what to avoid.

Canned Seafood

Seafood in cans or resealable pouches is an easy low-calorie, high-protein snack. These items are often packaged in oil or water to preserve consistency, but some also come with sauces for taste.

While seafood itself is more likely savory than sweet-tasting, added sauces are a common source of sugar. For example, single-serve pouches of Starkist Chunk Light Tuna in Water or Bumblebee’s Albacore Tuna in Water don’t contain any sugar.

Both brands also have a line of flavored products. Bumblebee’s Spicy Thai Chili Seasoned Tuna pouch has 7 g of sugar, 6 g of which are added. Starkist’s Mango Chipotle Style pouch has 3 g of sugar.

You can purchase many varieties of pre-packaged sardines, anchovies, tuna, salmon, oysters, and crab without any added sauce. These items are a nutritious source of essential minerals and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Use them to cook fish patties, add to homemade pizzas, top salads, or put in soups and stews.

Canned Soups

Most packaged soups and stocks are high in sodium. Excess sodium may promote thirst and hunger cues, along with increasing the risk of high blood pressure and long-term kidney damage. Furthermore, sugar is often added as a preservative and flavor-enhancer, which can put your appetite on a rollercoaster, leading to unhealthy food cravings.

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 one 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.

Sauces and Condiments

Sauces add flavor to many dishes but can also add calories, carbs, salt, and sugar. You’ll have more control over the ingredients if you make your own pesto or pasta sauce at home. However, if you’re stocking up on store-bought options, look for low-sodium products with no added sugars, such as:

Salsa and tomato paste can also be high in salt. The sodium content (per 2 tbsp serving) of a few of the most popular salsa brands include:

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

Dry 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 g of sugar and carbohydrates per serving. The brand's classic evaporated milk has 3 g of sugar and carbohydrate per serving. While they won't reduce your sugar or carb intake, Nestle also offers low-fat and fat-free evaporated milk options with fewer calories.

Canned Fruits, Veggies, and Beans

Canned fruit, vegetables, and beans are affordable, versatile, and can be stored for a long time. As with other canned foods, look for low-sodium options without added sugar or syrups. Specific nutrition information will vary by brand, but here are a few examples of the most popular products.

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 sodium. Instead of sweetened "pumpkin pie filling" look for plain puree pumpkin.

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 makes great additions to low-carb, high-protein meals, or even 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, such as Ocean Spray's Jellied Cranberry Sauce (24 g of sugar) vs. Whole Cranberry Sauce with 22 g. If you make cranberry sauce at home, you can control how much sugar is used. There are even recipes for sugar-free cranberry sauce.

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 such as:

You can also make your own fruit cups. In fact, while it's a little more labor-intensive learning how to preserve and can food at home is a fun and useful skill.

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