We all want to keep our families as healthy as possible, now more than ever. For those of you who choose to show love to your family through cooking, keep reading! Cooking our families healthy meals can be an amazing way to keep them healthy as you will be providing a nutritious meal while getting in that much needed family time. One of my favorite ways to keep my family healthy is to use canned tomatoes in my cooking. There are many rumors online that state that canned vegetables are not as healthy as fresh and are not a good option, but I am here to set the record straight! Not only are canned tomatoes delicious, but they are a sustainable option that is great to support heart health.
My family and I are Italian American, and canned tomatoes are a huge part of our diet and culture. At least once a week we prepare a delicious tomato sauce using canned tomato products like crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. The recipe that my family makes has been passed down since my great grandparents moved to America from Italy, and I will certainly pass it down to my children as well. Using canned tomatoes not only ensures that our meals are filled with nutrients but allows us to consume fresh tasting tomatoes year-round.
Choosing canned tomatoes over fresh have many benefits. When tomatoes are canned, they are heated during the process. This heating increases the amount of lycopene that can be absorbed by the body . Lycopene is an antioxidant that is great for maintaining heart health. In fact, studies show that people who have higher concentrations of lycopene within their blood have a reduced risk of stroke, mortality, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) . As an antioxidant, lycopene has the ability to reduce reactive oxygen species, which is vital for fighting off chronic disease within the body .
In addition to being absolutely delicious, easy to incorporate in recipes, and heart healthy, canned tomatoes are a sustainable option as well. When we make the effort to recycle, it only takes 5% of the energy it would take to make a new aluminum can . Choosing canned tomatoes are a great way to show love to our planet as it will reduce your carbon footprint. Choosing canned tomatoes are also a great way to reduce food waste as they have a much longer shelf life than fresh tomatoes do. Reducing food waste is another great way that we can support the health of our planet.
The next time you are at the grocery store, make sure to pick up a couple cans of tomatoes! They are such a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. (My favorite is making a homemade marinara sauce!) The next time you’re in the kitchen, put the love in with heart healthy tomato products! Your family and the planet will thank you for choosing a heart healthy and sustainable option.
- Pogored. (2020, October 29).Are fresh Vegetables healthier than frozen OR CANNED?Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-fresh-vegetables-healthier-than-frozen-or-canned/.
- Cheng, H. M., Koutsidis, G., Lodge, J. K., Ashor, A. W., Siervo, M., & Lara, J. (2017). Lycopene and tomato and risk of cardiovascular diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological evidence.Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,59(1), 141–158. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2017.1362630
- Das, S., Otani, H., Maulik, N., & Das, D. K. (2005). Lycopene, tomatoes, and coronary heart disease.Free Radical Research,39(4), 449–455. https://doi.org/10.1080/10715760500053685
- Bloch, / M. (2012, November 11).Canned food – environmental pros and cons. Green Living Tips. https://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/canned-food-and-the-environment.html.
Bio: Olivia Peduto is an RD2B from Staten Island, New York. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. This fall, she will be starting her dietetic internship at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is passionate about nutrition for women’s reproductive health as well as digestive health. In her free time, Olivia enjoys gardening, cooking, and roller skating with friends. Her goal is to become a Registered Dietitian and open her own private practice where she can work individually with women to improve their reproductive and overall health through their diet.