Historically, canned foods have been considered the poor relative of the culinary world and have an even worse reputation nutritionally speaking. But times have changed.

In the past, fruits were only canned in sugary syrups and vegetables were overcooked and packed in salty brines. But advances in canning technology mean many foods now come packed in water or juice. Even low-sugar and low-salt varieties are available.

There’s more good news. Produce destined for canning is harvested at peak flavor and nutrition. While the heating process can initially degrade some nutrients, the packaging keeps levels stable from then on.

Even fresh produce can suffer loss of nutrients if not kept at the proper temperature during shipping and storage.

And some fruits and vegetables actually improve nutritionally with canning. Tomatoes not only don’t lose nutrients during processing, they become better sources of the antioxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes.

Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A, and studies have shown that the canning process actually makes it easier for the body to absorb the nutrient.

Canned fish and meats also have improved. Low-salt and low-fat versions are common and in many cases these foods are nutritionally comparable to fresh.

In this recipe, canned salmon (an excellent source for healthy omega-3 fatty acid) teams up with another star of the canned food world, nutrient- and fiber-rich beans.

The earthy, smoky flavor of canned black-eyed peas (a bean), make the perfect low-fat base for this versatile salmon spread. Serve it on a sandwich, as a topping for crostini, or even a dip for crispy, fresh vegetables.

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