Several times during the year, a food bank or pantry will ask us to donate food to help feed the needy. Often, it is difficult to know exactly what to give. It is important to look at the nutritional value of food items when donating. We all need to eat healthy and it is especially true for those who are struggling to purchase food on a regular basis. Often, families facing financial problems try to stretch their dollar by purchasing foods lower in nutrients but are high in calories. It increases the amount to eat but limits the quality. This type of diet can lead to obesity and other health-risk factors. Here are some items that can be included when donating to charities:

Canned or dry beans are a good to give becauseDonate Food With Nutrional Value they are dense in nutrients and filling to eat. There are several varieties such as red, navy, black or pinto. Lentils, whole grain pasta, rice and cereals are also healthy choices.

Donate food with good sources of vitamin C and A. Canned fruits in light syrup and vegetables like pumpkin, carrots and tomatoes are all high in these vitamins. Juices that are 100 percent juice are also great donations.

Foods high in protein are terrific to add when giving to the food bank. This can include canned tuna and chicken. Low- fat canned milk and peanut butter are packed with protein and are requested items by charities. For a treat, include some canned or packaged nuts.

Consider heart healthy items with reduced calories and sodium when you donate food. This can include canned soup and vegetables. Avoid things that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Read labels before donating to assess the nutritional value. Some items not to include are sugar loaded fruit drinks, dried seasoned packages with rice or pasta and some soups.

There are certain times of the year where we all tend to eat the wrong things, like around any holiday. When we donate food over the holidays, it gives us the opportunity to offer healthier choices to those in need. It can also help us to be more aware of the nutritional value of the things that we eat.