It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
If I wash canned beans and vegetables am I washing off some of the salt? All canned beans, etc., are usually full of salt unless the label says "no salt added." I am trying to avoid salt.
Most canned beans and vegetables do contain a lot of added salt. There is usually about 400 - 500 mg sodium in a half cup of canned beans.
Unfortunately, simply rinsing canned beans doesn't help to reduce the sodium content all that much. Do keep in mind that by rinsing the liquid away you are rinsing away at least some of the sodium. How much? I am not sure.
I have only been able to find one study on this and it's over ten years old. The researchers rinsed the beans and then heated them in clear water. Measurements showed the sodium content dropped by about a third.
Fortunately, there are more and more brands that are selling a no salt added version of their beans. I have seen numerous house brands such as Winn Dixie and Kroger that have low or no salt canned beans. If you need to be on a very low salt diet, buying dried beans and cooking them yourself gives you the most control over the amount of added salt.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP