5 key nutrients in canned tomatoes

5 key nutrients in canned tomatoes

Tomatoes are a superfood that contain several vitamins and nutrients that promote health. Here are 5 key nutrients present in canned tomatoes that pack a powerful nutrition punch.

When you think of the word superfood what comes to mind? Is it a tomato? Tomatoes are such a commonly eaten food filled with so much nutritional power, yet you may not think of them as a superfood. Not only are tomatoes packed with flavor, but they are also filled with important nutrients that are vital for overall health. Let’s unpack what science has to say about some of these key nutrients. 

  1. Lycopene. Lycopene belongs to a class of compounds called carotenoids, and are powerful antioxidants that promote skin health, protect against certain cancers, and decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, but heat during the cooking process makes the lycopene even more bioavailable to our bodies, which makes canned and cooked tomato products an excellent choice. 
  2. Beta-carotene. This is a phytochemical that is converted to retinol in the body which then becomes vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for supporting eye health and protects against cataracts and macular degeneration.
  3. Vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress. Additionally, it increases non-heme iron absorption from plant sources, while also preventing the iron inhibiting effects of calcium.
  4. Vitamin K. This is a fat soluble vitamin that is important for protein production. These proteins are necessary for the formation of blood clots, and the prevention of bone loss. Vitamin K has also been shown to protect against heart disease.
  5. Fiber. This nutrient has so many benefits, yet many people don’t get enough in their diets. Most know that fiber can promote bowel health and encourage regular bowel movements. However, it also can lower cholesterol levels, control blood glucose levels, and help maintain a healthy weight. 

Tomato products should be a staple in every kitchen pantry. Not only are they quick and convenient, they contain many nutrients that promote health! So, what are you waiting for? The next time you’re at the store go ahead and grab a can (or three) of some canned tomato products to use in the kitchen this week.

Need some recipe inspiration? Try out some of our favorites: 

Shakshuka Pita Pizzas
Curried Veggie Rice Bowl
Swiss Chard Pecan Lasagna

Healthy Skin Starts with…Tomatoes?

Healthy Skin Starts with…Tomatoes?

Could the secret to glowing, healthy skin be sitting in your kitchen pantry? Read on to learn more about what science has to say about lycopene and skin health.

Canned (and jarred) tomatoes are full of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids (like lycopene), and other vitamins. While some can be isolated and taken as a supplement, they are most effective when they come directly from foods. In their most natural form, the compounds work together, and have been shown to protect and promote healthy skin (1).

Lycopene has antioxidative properties, and while tomatoes contain a high concentration of this carotenoid, heating them during canning increases the bioavailability. In the body, the highest concentration of lycopene is found in the skin tissues, and studies have shown that regular consumption of lycopene rich foods such as tomato products can increase the serum lycopene levels as well as procollagen I. These studies also indicated a decrease in mitochondrial DNA damage (1). Beyond lycopene, tomatoes also contain vitamins A, C, and E, which decrease inflammation and protect from UV light.

Looking for ways to get that healthy glow with tomato products? Check out these recipes: 

Greek Style Braised Eggplant
Crockpot Chicken Burrito Bowl
One Pan Chicken Cacciatore

References:

  1. Fam, V., Charoenwoodhipong, P., Sivamani, R., Holt, R., Keen, C., & Hackman, R. (2022). Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 122(3), 614-629. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2021.10.024
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:

Ratatouille
One Pan Chicken Cacciatore
Eggplant Moussaka

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

Salsas

Roasted

Grilled

Baked

Kebabs

Bruschetta

 

SoupsPastas

Salsas

Pizzas

Baked pasta dishes

Marinades

Chili

Curries

Stews
Pizza

Casseroles

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

 

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

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

Tomato Soup Shooters with Mini Grilled Cheese

Tomato Soup Shooters with Mini Grilled Cheese

Looking for the ultimate party comfort food? Then this recipe for Tomato Soup Shooters is just the thing you need to try! Whether you make it for a light dinner or a party appetizer, it’s sure to please. Try serving it alongside a grilled cheese for the ultimate combo!

Tomato soup is a classic go-to but it’s even better when you make it yourself, because it’s just so easy! With simple ingredients and pantry staples, you can whip up this old-fashioned tomato soup recipe in no time. Best of all, the ingredients for this recipe are easy to keep on hand, such as onions, canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, and dried herbs, making it a go-to recipe to whip up any night of the week. 

This tomato soup is rich in the hearty flavors of tomatoes, which are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and lycopene—an antioxidant compound with cancer-fighting properties, as well as heart-health activity. The lycopene content found in canned tomatoes allows this ingredient to be one of the most useful, healthy additions to just about any meal. Since canned tomatoes have even MORE nutritional value than fresh tomatoes, they provide a powerful impact on human health. So, what are you waiting for? Get your soup on this week and try these Tomato Soup Shooters out!

Tomato Soup Shooters with Mini Grilled Cheese

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped
  • 24 oz. tomato sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 10 slices white bread
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese

Instructions

    1. In a large sauce-pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion turns translucent.
    2. Then mix in the chopped basil leaves, tomato sauce, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat so that it is simmering, Simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
    3. Butter one side of five slices of bread. Flip them over so that the buttered side is facing down. Add a layer of the cheese on top then stack the remaining slices of bread on top. Butter the tops of the bread.
    4. Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the sandwiches to the pan and cook until each side is golden brown and the cheese has melted. 
    5. Remove the grilled cheeses from the pan. Cut off the crusts then cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. 
    6. Pour the tomato soup into shot glasses and top with a mini grilled cheese. Enjoy!
    For other delicious soup recipes, check out some of our favorites:

    California Walnut Firehouse Chili
    Santa Fe Chicken Soup
    Fideo Soup