Canned Tomato Goodness
Do you have this must-have in your kitchen?
Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team
Whether you like homemade marinara sauce and salsa or dishes like tomato-based soup or lasagna, there’s one thing they all have in common: canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes have such versatility that they are an essential staple to have on-hand in your cabinet “cantry” while their nutritional impact makes them more than a one-hit wonder.
Yes You Can
There tends to be a misconception that fresh is best when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Canned tomatoes are a great example of how assumptions don’t necessarily hold up to science.
In general, tomatoes are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, folate and potassium, as well as potent plant compounds called phytochemicals. The phytochemicals at play for tomatoes are carotenoids that serve as pigments—red lycopene, orange beta-carotene and yellow zeta-carotene.
Interestingly, how tomatoes are prepared dictates the availability of the antioxidant-acting compound lycopene. Cooking tomatoes helps release lycopene from their cells.¹ Therefore, the amount of lycopene available for you to absorb is higher in cooked tomatoes than fresh.² How about that?
Tip: For greatest impact, add a fat, like olive oil, to best absorb the lycopene found in canned tomatoes because lycopene is a fat-soluble compound. Meaning, it absorbs in your cells best when paired with a fat.
What Lycopene Can Do²
As research on its role in disease prevention expands, lycopene is currently considered the most potent antioxidant-acting compound by researchers. It has shown to reduce the risk for prostate and colorectal cancer in addition to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and depression.
What is the primary source of lycopene in American’s meals? Tomato-based products like tomato sauce.³
When in doubt on what to make for dinner, let canned tomatoes lead the way to inspiration. You can mix and match them into almost any recipe that includes animal-based and plant-based proteins as well as whole grains, gluten-free grains and lots of other vegetables in fresh, frozen, canned or dried form.
Take a Canned Tomato Journey
With these tried and true classics from Tomato Wellness, flavor is the driver and canned tomatoes help bring these crave-worthy dishes to life!
¹ Nguyen, Minhthy, David Francis, and Steven Schwartz. Thermal isomerisation susceptibility of carotenoids in different tomato varieties. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2001;81: 910-917.
² Imran M, Ghorat F, Ul-Haq I, et al. Lycopene as a natural antioxidant used to prevent human health disorders. Antioxidants. 2020;9(8):706. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9080706.
³ Story EN, Kopec RE, Schwartz SJ, Harris GK. An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2010;1:189-210. http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120.