Research continues to show that eating a balanced variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains can play a large role in overall health. While MyPlate serves as a guide to help us make healthy dietary choices, where do canned tomatoes fit into the picture?
MyPlate is an initiative by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and provides practical guidance for building a healthy and balanced diet. It emphasizes the importance of including various food groups in appropriate proportions to meet nutritional needs. While fresh produce often takes the spotlight, canned tomatoes hold a unique position within the MyPlate guidelines.
Canned tomatoes offer numerous health benefits, making them a valuable addition to the MyPlate guidelines. These versatile ingredients are a part of the vegetable group within the MyPlate classification, specifically falling under the subcategory of non-starchy vegetables.
So, let’s explore the significance of including canned tomatoes in MyPlate and highlight the specific food group classification where they fall.
Nutritional Value of Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes boast an impressive nutritional profile that contributes to overall health and well-being. Here are some key reasons why they deserve a place in the vegetable group of MyPlate.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Canned tomatoes are rich in essential vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and various B-complex vitamins. These vitamins play a vital role in supporting the immune system, promoting vision health, aiding blood clotting, and supporting energy production. Additionally, canned tomatoes provide minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are crucial for maintaining healthy bodily functions, including nerve transmission, muscle function, and bone health.
- Antioxidants: Canned tomatoes contain a potent antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment responsible for the vibrant red color of tomatoes. It has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer and heart disease. Lycopene’s antioxidant properties help protect cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
- Fiber Content: Canned tomatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, contributing to digestive health and providing a feeling of satiety. Fiber aids in maintaining regular bowel movements, reducing the risk of constipation, and promoting overall gastrointestinal health.
Health Benefits of Including Canned Tomatoes in MyPlate
Incorporating canned tomatoes into your MyPlate guidelines offers notable health benefits, including:
- Cardiovascular Health. The combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in canned tomatoes supports heart health. The potassium content helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels, while lycopene and other antioxidants contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Cancer Prevention. Lycopene, the prominent antioxidant in canned tomatoes, has been linked to a decreased risk of certain cancers, such as prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. Including canned tomatoes in your diet can provide a convenient and concentrated source of lycopene, supporting your body’s defense against cancer development.
Incorporating Canned Tomatoes into Your MyPlate Guidelines
Now that we understand the health benefits of canned tomatoes, let’s explore how to include them within the vegetable group of MyPlate.
- Vegetable Side Dishes: Add canned tomatoes to vegetable-based side dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, stews, and sautés. They can enhance the flavors while providing valuable nutrients.
- Sauces and Salsas: Utilize canned tomatoes as a base for homemade sauces and salsas. Combine them with other vegetables and herbs for a nutritious and flavorful addition to your meals.
- Salads: Incorporate canned tomatoes into salads alongside fresh vegetables for added color, texture, and taste.
Canned tomatoes are a versatile and nutrient-rich ingredient that belongs to the vegetable group within the MyPlate guidelines. They offer essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, contributing to a healthy and balanced diet. Including canned tomatoes in your meals can support cardiovascular health, aid in cancer prevention, and facilitate weight management. By incorporating these flavorful ingredients into your MyPlate guidelines, you can enjoy the convenience and nutritional benefits they provide while diversifying your vegetable intake and embracing a more wholesome eating pattern.