7 Processed Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy

There are plenty of easy and quick meals that you may eat every day that aren’t doing your health any good service. But all in all, there are quite a few foods that have high nutritional value even if they aren’t coming right from your local farm to your dinner table.

Here are a few highly-nutritious processed foods that you should feel good about adding in to your diet.

1. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt in a glass jars

Greek yogurt is a must for those looking to get a dose each of calcium and protein. | iStock.com/tashka2000

Though many yogurts on the market contain sugary syrups and fruit toppings to flavor them, Greek yogurt, while still processed and supplied in both individual packages and larger containers, can be part of a balanced and healthy diet. Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt because the liquid whey is separated from the final product, according to Healthline. This gives the Greek yogurt its signature thick texture, and it reduces the carbs and sugar content that is higher in other yogurts.

2. Nut butters

Sweet Cookie Butter

Peanut butter is full of healthy fats. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Nut butters may be high in fat and calories, but overall, they can actually do amazing things for your health and should find a home in your pantry. Though peanut butter on white bread may be your childhood staple food, other butters like almond butter, walnut butter, and cashew butter are all excellent alternatives to the commonplace peanut butter.

3. Flax meal


Flaxseeds are hard to digest, so go for ground. | iStock.com

There are not many foods that are actually healthier once they go through a bit of processing, but in the case of flax meal, this happens to be the case. Flaxseed meal is made by grounding up the whole seeds of flax, and in its ground form, it’s more easily digested than eating the seeds whole. According to SFGate, grinding the flax releases many of its nutritious aspects, so go for the meal instead of whole flax when picking this food up from your grocery store.

4. Canned beans

mixed dried beans, lentils

Canned beans are convenient and nutritious. | iStock.com

While one serving of canned beans can unfortunately do some serious damage in the sodium category, beans typically also offer between 13 and 15 grams of protein per serving. There are low-sodium canned options available in the grocery aisle, but if you can’t seem to find them, rinsing your beans before using them can help reduce the sodium levels. Additionally, if you’re looking to keep the fat and calorie content low, opt out of canned baked beans and just stick with the plain bean varieties to build your own meals and flavor combinations.

5. Canned tuna and salmon

canned tuna in a bowl

If you need a quick meal, canned tuna is a great option. | iStock.com

While fresh tuna and salmon come with a slew of health benefits that are hard to beat, the canned forms also come with their own benefits — and they can be found for a great price in your local grocery store. The World’s Healthiest Foods explains canned salmon can potentially contain even more health benefits than fresh salmon, and this is because the bones are packed into the canned salmon and they soften during the canning process so that you can consume them. Canned tuna, whether packed in oil or water, also contains quite a bit of protein and omega-3s as well — one 4-ounce serving of tuna contains about 19% of your recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Frozen vegetables or fruit

frozen mixed fruit - berries

Frozen fruits and vegetables are sometimes even healthier than fresh. | iStock.com/baibaz

Even when winter hits and some of your favorite vegetables and fruits are out of season, have no fear — frozen vegetables and fruits are the perfect processed substitute to get you through those off months. While fresh fruits and veggies may seem like the healthier choice, they can be quite expensive during certain times of the year, and if they aren’t already prepped and ready to go, they may be left a little too long sitting in the bottom shelf of your fridge.

7. Hummus

hummus in a bowl

Hummus is a great snack. | iStock.com

Chickpeas, hummus’s main ingredient, are rich in fiber, so they’re great for your digestive system. Olive oil, another main ingredient in this food, is high in healthy fats that can help ward off heart disease. And, there’s no shortage of flavorings when it comes to hummus — from spicy to sweet, the flavor combinations are seemingly endless, and they all contain heart-healthy and digestive-friendly ingredients to make your meals delicious and healthful.