What role do tomatoes play in the American diet? They’re one of the most nutrient-packed foods that can easily be integrated into any of your favorite dishes! Keep reading to learn more about how to use tomatoes as a functional food.

Did you know that tomatoes are the 4th most commonly consumed fresh AND canned vegetable in the American diet? Other than a few other vegetables, such as onions, lettuce, and potatoes, tomatoes play an integral role in the recipes we make in our kitchens, eat at restaurants, and order for take-out. Tomatoes come in numerous sources— diced, canned, sauce, paste, and juice. This is great news because tomato products contain a ton of important nutrients our bodies need to function properly and achieve optimal health. Some of these include vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, antioxidants, and folate. They also contain an important carotenoid called lycopene, which contains phytochemicals that help to fight and reduce risk of certain diseases and cancers.

American tomato-lovers consume approximately 17.9 pounds of fresh tomatoes and 68.7 pounds of tomato products each year. This study provides evidence-based research that shows tomatoes are considered a functional food, meaning they have numerous health benefits that help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular diseases, contain numerous micronutrients, are jam-packed with phytochemicals, and more! Unfortunately, cardiovascular diseases have caused more deaths in females than males while prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. Given these statistics, it’s assumed that these common types of cancers and diseases have increased mortality rates in the general population, making them a large threat to the lives of many. With advanced research and studies on discovering the correlation between tomato consumption and reduced risks of diseases, researchers have been able to identify that tomato products can have a positive impact on peoples’ lives—especially those in high risk categories, such as older men and women. 

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to whip up a delicious tomato-based recipe that you can make, share, and enjoy with friends and family. Creating meals with tomato products is just as easy to make as it is to eat. Not only are these meals packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer abilities, they are full of flavor that will have you wanting more!

For other tomato news, check out:

Top 11 Reasons to Go Red with Tomato Products
Can Tomatoes Help Your Kid Eat More Veggies?
What is Lycopene?
Health Connection Between Tomatoes and Lycopene

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