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Dietitian gives the lowdown on the healthiest tinned beans in the supermarket 

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Last week, it was suggested that we eat a certain cereal brand topped with baked beans. 

It’s difficult to see the idea taking off but there’s no doubt that baked beans themselves have much to offer — an average half-can serving counts as a veg portion, has a quarter of your daily fibre as well as protein, plus slow-releasing carbs. 

The tomato sauce provides lycopene (linked with lower risk of heart disease and stroke). But not all cans are equal. Here, dietitian Helen Bond selects five of the healthiest. 

(For reference a half can of Heinz Beanz has 162 calories; 0.1g saturated fat; 9.8g sugar; 7.7g fibre; 9.7g protein and 1.2g salt.) 

The tomato sauce provides lycopene (linked with lower risk of heart disease and stroke). But not all cans are equal

The tomato sauce provides lycopene (linked with lower risk of heart disease and stroke). But not all cans are equal

Sainsbury’s Baked Beans 

Sainsbury's Baked Beans

Sainsbury’s Baked Beans

400g, 30p, sainsburys.co.uk

Per half can (200g): Calories, 168; saturated fat, 0.2g; protein, 9.2g; fibre, 9.9g; sugar, 8.5g; salt, 1.05g

The ingredients here are fairly standard, with 51 per cent haricot beans and the rest lycopene-rich tomatoes (a third of the can), along with water, sugar, salt, cornstarch and seasonings.

But the levels of salt and added sugar are on the lower side, with an eighth less salt and 13 per cent lower total sugar content per half can serving than standard Heinz Beanz. 

ASDA No Added Sugar Reduced Salt Baked Beans

ASDA No Added Sugar Reduced Salt Baked Beans

ASDA No Added Sugar Reduced Salt Baked Beans 

410g, 31p, asda.com

Per half can (205g): Calories, 149; saturated fat, 0.2g; protein, 9.2g; fibre, 9.8g; sugar, 3g; salt, 0.7g

These beans have no added sugar but are sweetened with zero-calorie stevia (from the stevia plant).

These are the lowest salt baked beans, too, with around 12 per cent of your daily limit per half can, compared with up to twice or more in some varieties. This product is packed with fibre, providing almost a third of your daily needs.

Heinz Five Beans

Heinz Five Beans 

Heinz Five Beans

415g, £1, most supermarkets.

Per half can (207g): Calories, 179; saturated fat, 0.1g; protein, 11.2g; fibre, 8.8g; sugar, 9.6g; salt, 1.2g

Using five different beans — pinto, cannellini, borlotti and red kidney beans as well as the usual baked bean variety, haricot — means a greater variety of nutrients and fibre types (to feed your good gut bacteria).

For example, pinto beans have high levels of folate, which helps support a healthy immune system; while red kidney beans add a boost of antioxidant vitamin E.

Overall, this makes for an even more nutritious can of beans, with a smidge more protein than usual, though the sugar and salt levels are similar to a standard variety — there’s a fifth of your daily salt limit and just under 1½ teaspoons of added sugar (nearly a quarter of your daily limit of this type — the highest here).

Auga White Beans in Tomato Sauce

Auga White Beans in Tomato Sauce

Auga White Beans in Tomato Sauce

400g, £1.35, ocado.com

Per half pouch (200g): Calories, 186; saturated fat, 0.12g; protein, 12.4g; fibre, 8g; sugar, 9.2g; salt, 1.2g

These have a slightly bigger ratio of beans to tomato sauce than usual (60 per cent beans, versus a more common 50 to 52 per cent). 

And they don’t have any of the low-nutritional value corn starch that usually keeps the sauce thick.

Unusually, cannellini beans, which are slightly higher in protein, are used here, so these are the best pick for protein, which helps curb hunger (with 25 per cent more than in standard Heinz Beanz and nearly as much as two boiled eggs). But there’s around a teaspoon of sugar per serving.

Whole Earth Saucy Organic No Added Sugar Baked Beans

Whole Earth Saucy Organic No Added Sugar Baked Beans

Whole Earth Saucy Organic No Added Sugar Baked Beans 

400g, £1.19, ocado.com

Per half can (200g): Calories, 192; saturated fat, 0.2g; protein, 10.4g; fibre, 9g; sugar, 8.6g; salt, 1.2g

The wide variety of flavouring herbs and spices — including nutmeg, dill and cloves — in these beans offers a slight health advantage over other products, as spices are high in phytochemicals, plant chemicals that gut microbes can feast on and transform into a range of compounds such as short-chain fatty acids linked with cancer prevention and better heart health.

While there is no added sugar, the concentrated apple juice in this can acts in the same way as table sugar (though there’s a little less — maybe a quarter teaspoon less — than in many baked bean brands). Half a can has 20 per cent of your daily salt limit, too.

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