Correlation between canned tomatoes and cancer prevention

Correlation between canned tomatoes and cancer prevention

There are a number of health benefits that come from the regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato products. Here’s what science has to say about the correlation between canned tomatoes and cancer prevention.

Cancer is a global health concern, and a leading cause of death worldwide. Billions of dollars are spent annually on cancer research, and a significant number of those studies focus on the effects of certain compounds found in food and their cancer prevention properties. The bioactive compounds of plant based foods have been thoroughly examined, with an emphasis on carotenoids and phenolic compounds.

One of the most potent antioxidants out there is called lycopene, which is the powerful pigment responsible for giving tomatoes their bright red color. It can also neutralize reactive oxidative species, and prevent damage to our cell’s DNA. According to several scientific studies, people who consume more tomato products have a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer, likely due to the powerful combination of lycopene, vitamin A, and vitamin C that occurs naturally in tomatoes. Along with being an antioxidant, lycopene can promote cancer cell apoptosis (ie. death), and interfere with cell signaling pathways to prevent cancerous cells from reproducing.

While fresh tomatoes are relatively high in lycopene, the compound becomes more bioavailable as tomatoes are cooked, meaning your body can absorb more and take advantage of its anti-cancer properties. Why is this? Heat changes the structure of the lycopene molecule, making it easier for the body to take in, and helps break down cell walls, which frees lycopene and allows it to be absorbed.  A recent study found that men who ate cooked tomatoes five to six times per week had a 28% decreased risk of developing prostate cancer versus those who didn’t. Eating tomato products such as tomato sauce, tomato juice, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and salsa is a great way to ensure you are getting in plenty of cancer-fighting lycopene.

To get the most out of your canned tomato products, try adding a little bit of oil to your tomatoes, as this can boost your ability to absorb lycopene even more. This is because lycopene is a fat-soluble compound, and the fat in oil helps lycopene get broken down to a form usable by the body. A serving of whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce and a side salad with olive oil and vinegar is the perfect prostate-cancer-preventing meal!

Looking for ways to power up your lycopene intake? Check out these recipes:

One Pan Chicken Cacciatore
Eggplant Moussaka

8 Pizza Recipes You NEED to Try!

8 Pizza Recipes You NEED to Try!

If you’re looking to whip up some pizza for your next family dinner, then you need to try one of these pizza recipes!

Who doesn’t love a good pizza? This food is well loved throughout the world, and while you can eat it with traditional toppings, you can get creative and add your favorites to make it more personalized. But if you think that pizza isn’t that nutritious, you may want to reconsider– we talk about this a lot, and especially how the tomato sauce found in most pizzas contains lycopene! Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to protect the body against many chronic diseases. Similar to most nutrients, it’s more natural to obtain lycopene from foods rather than supplements. In order to achieve maximum health benefits associated with lycopene, it is recommended to consume tomato products with a heart healthy fat, such as olive oil or avocado. That’s why we recommend enjoying lycopene and its health benefits through delicious foods such as these pizza recipes. 

And while you’re waiting for these pizzas to bake up, check out this post where we debunk some bogus pizza myths. Happy eating!

Can’t get enough pizza? Check out these other pizza inspired recipes:

Cheesy Pizza Dip
Pizza Soup
Instant Pot Pizza Pasta

8 Pizza Recipes You NEED to Try!

Is fresh really best? Here’s why canned tomatoes reign supreme.

Is fresh really best? Here’s why canned tomatoes reign supreme.

Is fresh really best? Despite some common misconceptions, canned goods (like tomatoes) can be a more delicious, nutritious, and a more affordable option compared to their fresh counterparts. Here’s why you should consider adding some canned (or jarred) tomatoes to your grocery list.

Many people may be under the belief that while canned foods are convenient, they are lacking in nutrients. But is this thought process really true? Let’s break down the difference between fresh and canned tomatoes to see which one comes out on top.

Fresh Tomatoes

Tomatoes pack many beneficial health compounds–such as fiber and vitamins A and C–that are important for a healthy heart, as well as eyes, skin, and gums. Tomatoes also contain a powerful antioxidant and pigment called lycopene, which lends tomatoes their bright red color and contributes to heart health and cancer prevention.

While they may be available year-round, fresh tomatoes are often shipped over long distances in the winter or grown in heated greenhouses. It can take up to two weeks from field to fork to get fresh tomatoes when they are out of season, and they certainly won’t taste as good. While fresh tomatoes can add a flavorful bite to many dishes, they are best when they are in season. However, if you don’t have a garden and have to purchase fresh tomatoes, you might want to reserve them for dishes in which this texture really makes a difference (such as salads and sandwiches), as there’s no need to use fresh in dishes that feature cooked tomatoes.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are harvested at their flavor and nutrition peak and canned within just a few hours. Plus, they are quite affordable, meaning that this is a budget-friendly, easy, and convenient option for you and your family.

In addition to the affordability of canned tomatoes, they are rich in vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly and can help boost energy and reduce the risk of certain diseases. In fact, studies have shown that canned tomatoes are even more nutrient-rich and environmentally-friendly than fresh tomatoes. And, as people continue to cook from the comfort of their own homes, canned tomatoes have grown in popularity thanks to their ease of use, high nutrition content, and a variety of forms (like tomato sauce, tomato paste, marinara sauce, salsa, and diced, stewed and whole tomatoes). Since fresh tomatoes can cost more–especially during the fall/winter/spring–you’re better off using canned/jarred tomato products for dishes in which the texture of fresh isn’t important, such as pasta dishes, pizza, lasagnas, curry, soups, stews, and casseroles and you want that PEAK of season flavor and nutrition.

What’s the verdict?

While fresh tomatoes can be eaten throughout the year, they are at their peak during summer; as such, it can be challenging to enjoy their ripeness during fall, winter, and spring. Conversely, canned tomatoes can be enjoyed all year round as an affordable, nutritious option that consistently delivers those delicious summer flavors whenever you need them. 

Use this guide from Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN to help determine when it’s the right time to use canned or fresh tomatoes.

  Fresh Canned
Cost 1.98 per pound, on vine organic* .98 per 14.4oz can diced tomatoes**
Local Seasonality (U.S.) Summer Harvesting during the summer; available year-round
Flavor Firm, plump, juicy, mild. Changes from one tomato to another.  Consistency! Higher concentration of flavor similar or sometimes better than fresh tomatoes based on the variety of tomato used and processing procedures
Cooking Suitability SaladsSandwiches











Baked pasta dishes






Convenience Wash, slice, and dice as needed Open can and mix into dishes
*Based on price data, May 25, 2017,**Based on price data for Hunt’s, May 24, 2017,


Learn more about why dietitians loved canned tomatoes with these articles:

Why Dietitians Won’t Bash Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes: Fresh vs. Canned