In the eyes of some food experts, packaged foods are a cardinal sin: you shouldn’t touch or go 10 feet near them for any reason. The advice isn’t entirely misguided, as many processed foods contain empty calories that don’t benefit the body. However, not every packaged or canned product is ultra-processed—a highly refined, nutrient-deficient, and preservative-heavy food.
For instance, canned beans (e.g., red kidney and pinto beans) are vegan favorites because they contain low fat and high volumes of protein and fiber. They’re also precooked, saving you from spending an eternity in the kitchen. Canned beans aren’t the only healthy packaged foods you should know about. Our blog explains the safe processed foods you should eat and the factors you should consider before buying them.
Tips for buying packaged foods in Nigeria
Carry these tips along with you before emptying your shopping purse on packaged foods in Nigeria.
1. Buy from a government-sanctioned supplier
Food suppliers that don’t adhere to established food laws threaten food safety. They sell expired or contraband products that contain unsafe ingredients. Instead, always buy from grocery stores with a verifiable license to supply food. One such online store is Pricepally, the farm-fresh food connoisseur that sources food directly from suppliers and manufacturers.
2. Always read labels
The admonition is as old as time: Always read nutrition labels. The information indicates the quality and quantity of nutrients. Moreover, it informs you about storage and product expiration dates.
Here are food ingredients you should avoid.
- Added sugars: They’re full of calories with no essential nutrients. Manufacturers add them to food products like sodas and cookies to sweeten them. Sugars aren’t a problem in small amounts, but excess volumes may cause weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Sugars should constitute less than 10% (less than 200 calories or 12 tablespoons) of your diet, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, natural sugars in milk, fresh fruits, and vegetables are neither added sugars nor harmful to your health.
- Trans and saturated fats: Not every fat is unhealthy. But artificial trans fat—the unsaturated fat made after vegetable oils are altered to stay solid for long periods—is the fat your doctor warned you about. Trans fat significantly increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka bad cholesterol, while decreasing good, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The side effects include weight gain and a high risk of diabetes.
The health consequences of saturated fat remain unclear among experts. But excessive consumption of saturated fat makes you vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases.
- High sodium: You need small doses (around 500 mg) of sodium for fluid balance, nutrient absorption, and muscle function. But surplus salt may cause hypertension.
- Additives: Manufacturers add synthetic ingredients to improve the appearance, shelf-life, and nutritional value. Not every additive is harmful. For instance, soybeans and corn are used to make emulsifiers that bind food. But certain artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and sucralose, may cause weight gain. Likewise, nitrates and nitrites, regular additives in processed meats, increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
3. Watch out for hidden allergens
Always watch out for nutrients that trigger an abnormal response in your body before buying packaged foods. Food allergies are one more reason you should pay attention to nutrient labels. Cow’s milk, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, and eggs are common allergens.
Where can I buy packaged foods in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a hotbed of food fraud and expired products. In 2016, the Nigerian Customs Service seized over 100 bags of “plastic rice.” Counterfeit products are harmful to the environment and your health. Food fraud caused the mortality of two secondary students in Abuja in 2018.
These food stories suggest one thing: Always buy food from registered suppliers. This is where Pricepally can help you. We source fresh food items and processed foods from farmers and government-approved suppliers. We implement industry-standard preservation techniques to protect the shelf life.
Our quality services extend to delivery. We bring you the packaged food you want within a few clicks at a price that works for you. With us, you don’t have to choose between retail or bulk shopping because you can do both, thanks to Pally. Pally helps you share the price of food with other shoppers or friends. For example, you can share the cost of one carton of Golden Penny Spaghetti with your friends like this:
- Log in to Pricepally through Android, iOS, or the web. Select the product you want to buy (Golden Penny Spaghetti in this case)
- Choose “Select Order Type” and select the portion you want.
- Add to cart and continue to shop.
Still unsure how it works? This short GIF explains it.
10 healthy packaged foods you should eat
If your breakfast diet is epileptic, oats are a nutrient-dense, easy-to-prepare option. It’s a whole-grain food rich in high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Oats contain avenanthramides, an antioxidant that lowers blood pressure.
Consider including oats in your diet if you have type 2 diabetes (T2D) because they contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that reduces blood glucose and regulates T2D. The high beta-glucan and fiber contents regulate body weight by releasing satiety hormones that reduce calorie intake.
Health tip: Introduce oats early to asthmatic children because they reduce the onset of asthma in kids.
It’s a creamy food filled with milk, sugar, eggs, and flavors. The high presence of eggs and milk makes custard an excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamin B12, and calcium. Like oats, custards are perfect for breakfast because of their ease of preparation.
Here’s how to prepare custard in less than 20 minutes.
- Mix custard powder and sugar (optional) in a bowl with 1 or 2 cups of water until smooth.
- Pour hot, boiling water into the custard solution and stir until it becomes thick.
- Add milk, and serve with beans or akara. Bon Appetit!
Watch Tspices Kitchen prepare custard here:
3. Canned fish
Do you want protein but can’t afford it? Your answer is canned fish. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, a heart-friendly fat that reduces the risk of depression and dementia. Packaged fish undergo minimal processing, containing only fish and brine (a mixture of salt and water). Sardines, salmon, and tuna are inexpensive processed fish you should include in your diet.
Health tip: Avoid buying packaged fish with mercury. High mercury intake may impair the central nervous system. Instead, buy a low-calorie, processed fish preserved in water or a salt solution.
Wheat is a rich source of carbs, protein (mainly gluten), and essential nutrients like manganese and folate (vitamin B12). Whole wheat contains fiber and phytonutrients that reduce the risk of colon cancer and improve gut health.
5. Basmati rice
Basmati rice is the answer to long-grain rice with low levels of arsenic, a heavy metal that increases the risk of diabetes and heart-related diseases. It’s enriched with micronutrients like copper, iron, vitamin B6, and folate. Basmati rice has a low glycemic index (GI)—the awareness tool for blood sugar management—because it’s a whole grain.
Health tip: Brown basmati rice is a healthy choice for individuals with type 2 diabetes because of its high fiber and nutrient content.
Mayonnaise is a thick, creamy emulsion made from oil, egg yolk, acidic liquid (e.g., lemon juice or vinegar), and mustard. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids that improve brain and skin health and vitamins. Mayonnaise improves eye health because of the vitamin A in egg yolks. It contains mainly healthy unsaturated fats, making it a fitting choice if you’re on a keto diet.
Despite the high caloric value of refined pasta, vegetables (e.g., broccoli, bell peppers, and tomatoes) and proteins can make it a balanced meal.
Health tip: If you’re sensitive to gluten, a protein in wheat and barley that triggers adverse reactions, avoid pasta made with gluten. Instead, eat gluten-free pasta made from brown rice or quinoa.
Adult cereals boost red blood cell production and optimal brain function because they contain iron. Dietary fiber and protein improve satiety, which helps you control your body weight. Moreover, calcium improves bone formation, especially in children.
Babies need more than breast milk to develop. Baby cereals provide the much-needed iron infants need for brain development. It supplies zinc, vitamins, and calcium. Baby cereals are perfect for children aged six months and older.
Some of the baby cereals you can buy from Pricepally include;
9. Coconut milk
10. Tin tomatoes
Tin tomatoes are storehouses of lycopene, the heart-friendly antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Besides, lycopene improves eyesight and protects against the damaging effects of the sun.