Is Canned Chicken Healthy? Exploring The Pros And Cons

By Kendra Reed

Updated On

In today’s fast-paced world, canned chicken has become a popular choice for those seeking a convenient and shelf-stable protein source. Whether you’re whipping up a quick salad or adding protein to your favorite casserole, canned chicken offers a time-saving solution. However, with convenience often comes questions about nutritional value and health benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of canned chicken, helping you make informed decisions about incorporating it into your diet.

Key Takeaways

  1. Canned chicken is a convenient protein source, but it may contain added sodium and preservatives.
  2. While canned chicken offers similar protein content to fresh chicken, it may have some nutritional differences.
  3. Making informed choices about canned chicken consumption and opting for low-sodium varieties can help minimize potential health risks.

What Is Canned Chicken?

Canned chicken is a precooked, shelf-stable product that has been sealed in a can and heat-processed to prevent spoilage. The canning process involves cooking the chicken, sealing it in a can, and then heating it to a specific temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. This process allows canned chicken to have a longer shelf life compared to fresh chicken.

Canned chicken comes in various forms, such as chunk chicken, shredded chicken, or even whole chicken breasts. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of recipes, from soups and stews to sandwiches and salads.

Is Canned Chicken Healthy?

When it comes to the nutritional value of canned chicken, there are both pros and cons to consider. On the positive side, canned chicken is a good source of protein, with a 3-ounce serving providing about 21 grams of protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, making canned chicken a convenient option for those looking to increase their protein intake.

However, one of the main concerns about canned chicken is its sodium content. Many canned chicken products contain added sodium for flavor and preservation. Excessive sodium intake can result in high blood pressure and various health complications. It’s important to read labels carefully and choose low-sodium options when possible.

Another potential concern is the presence of preservatives in some canned chicken products. While these preservatives help extend the shelf life, some people may prefer to limit their intake of added chemicals. Opting for canned chicken with minimal ingredients can help minimize this concern.

What Occurs Within Your Body When You Consume Canned Chicken?

When you consume canned chicken, your body processes it similarly to fresh chicken. The protein in canned chicken is broken down into amino acids, which are then used by your body for various functions, such as building muscle, repairing tissues, and producing enzymes and hormones.

One potential benefit of consuming canned chicken is its convenience factor. Having a shelf-stable protein source on hand can make it easier to create quick, balanced meals, which may support overall health and weight management goals. Like all foods, balance and diversity are crucial for a healthy diet.

While canned chicken can be a part of a healthy diet, there are some potential health risks to be aware of:

1. BPA exposure:

Some canned chicken products may be packaged in cans lined with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that has been linked to various health concerns. Opting for BPA-free cans or packaging can help minimize this risk.

2. High sodium intake

Consuming too much sodium from canned chicken and other high-sodium foods can contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues. Choosing low-sodium options and balancing canned chicken with fresh, whole foods can help keep sodium intake in check.

To minimize these risks while still enjoying the convenience of canned chicken, look for products with minimal added ingredients and opt for low-sodium varieties when possible. Incorporating a variety of protein sources, both fresh and canned, can also help promote a balanced diet.

Nutritional Variances Between Canned Chicken And Fresh

While canned chicken and fresh chicken are both good sources of protein, there are some nutritional differences to consider:

  1. Sodium content: Canned chicken often contains added sodium, while fresh chicken is naturally low in sodium.
  2. Fat content: Canned chicken may have a slightly higher fat content compared to fresh chicken, depending on the cut of meat used and any added ingredients.
  3. Vitamin and mineral content: Fresh chicken may have a slightly higher content of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 and selenium, compared to canned chicken.

However, these nutritional differences can vary depending on the specific product and preparation method. When making choices between canned and fresh chicken, consider your individual dietary needs and preferences.

You Can Make Your Own Canned Chicken At Home

If you’re looking for a way to control the ingredients and freshness of your canned chicken, you can try making it at home. Here’s a simple recipe:


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the chicken pieces into clean, sterilized canning jars.
  3. Pour water or chicken broth over the chicken, leaving about 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
  4. Seal the jars tightly with canning lids and process them in a pressure canner according to manufacturer instructions.

Making your own canned chicken allows you to control the sodium content and ensure that no unwanted additives are present. Moreover, personalize the taste by incorporating preferred herbs and spices.

How Long Does Canned Chicken Last?

One of the benefits of canned chicken is its extended shelf life.

As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Commercially canned meat and poultry typically retain quality for 2 to 5 years, provided the can remains unopened stored under cool, clean, and dry conditions.”

However, it’s important to check the “best by” date on the can and look for any signs of damage or bulging, which could indicate spoilage. Once opened, canned chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and used within 3-4 days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also emphasizes the importance of proper storage and handling of canned foods to prevent foodborne illness.

Also Read: Benefits Of Fermented Garlic Honey


Canned chicken can be a convenient and versatile protein source, but it’s important to make informed choices about its role in your diet. While it offers similar protein content to fresh chicken, canned chicken may have added sodium and preservatives that could impact its nutritional value.

By opting for low-sodium varieties, reading labels carefully, and balancing canned chicken with fresh, whole foods, you can enjoy the benefits of this convenient protein source while minimizing potential health risks.

Keep in mind, that a well-rounded diet hinges on moderation and diversity. Incorporating both fresh and canned protein sources, along with a rainbow of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can support overall health and well-being.

So, the next time you reach for a can of chicken, feel confident in your choice, knowing that you’ve armed yourself with the knowledge to make the best decision for your health and taste buds.


1. How many times a week can I eat canned chicken?

As with any food, moderation is key. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and canned chicken can contribute to this total. Aim to balance canned chicken with fresh protein sources and vary your overall diet for optimal nutrition.

2. Is canned chicken a good option for weight loss?

Canned chicken can be a convenient protein source for those looking to manage their weight, as protein can help promote feelings of fullness and support muscle maintenance. However, it’s important to choose low-sodium varieties and be mindful of portion sizes, as the added sodium in some canned chicken products may not align with weight loss goals.

3. Can I substitute fresh chicken with canned chicken in recipes?

In most cases, canned chicken can be used as a substitute for fresh chicken in recipes. However, keep in mind that canned chicken may have a slightly different texture and flavor compared to fresh chicken. Adjusting seasoning and cooking times may be necessary to achieve the desired result.

4. Is canned chicken safe for pregnant women to consume?

Canned chicken is generally safe for pregnant women to consume as part of a balanced diet. However, pregnant women should be particularly mindful of their sodium intake, as excessive sodium consumption has been linked to certain health risks during pregnancy. Opting for low-sodium varieties and balancing canned chicken with fresh protein sources can help support a healthy pregnancy diet.

Join the conversation