Not enough vegetables in your diet? The solution has been found: eat more tomatoes. A recent review tells us that tomatoes may be the key to improving the average American’s diet.
The tomato has long been subject of debate, is it a vegetable or a fruit? It doesn’t really matter what it is, the tomato is great for your health. It can reduce your risk of heart disease and keep you looking young. It’s rich in potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and lycopene. Lycopene is why a tomato is red. It’s also found in watermelon and pink grapefruit as well. In this review, the authors state that lycopene levels increase with processing, due to heating and oil, which makes the lycopene more usable by our bodies. However, the same results will occur in your own kitchen by roasting tomatoes in the oven or making a marinara sauce from scratch.
One of the article’s two authors is the Nutrition Manager of Con Agra Foods, a huge food manufacturing company that owns several popular brands including Hunt’s and Ro-Tel. So obviously it is in their best interests to promote the canned tomato as part of a healthy diet. In fact, according to this article, the top dietary source of potassium is canned tomatoes. Hmmmm. Now, tomatoes are high in potassium and a can of tomatoes contains several of them, but canned tomatoes are also extremely high in sodium and contain BPA. A can of Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes has 980 mg of sodium — with the recommendation for daily sodium intake at less than 2300 mg, that’s almost half.
The authors state that Americans aren’t eating enough vegetables and suggest that promoting the consumption of tomatoes will help achieve this goal. Thanks to ketchup, pasta sauce and canned soups the tomato is the second most popular vegetable in America (the potato being the first). It’s one of the few vegetables that most people eat in some form. Considering that fewer than 30 percent of the tomatoes we eat are raw, maybe that’s the number that needs to start changing?