Did you know that
tomatoes are a rich source of vital antioxidants like
vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene, which has been
attributed to preventing cancer and other diseases?
In fact, tomatoes
are one of the richest sources of lycopene (a powerful
antioxidant similar to beta carotene) in our diets.
Think Fresh is Best? Think Again.
Although Americans each eat more than 16 pounds of fresh
tomatoes a year, we consume the equivalent of 79 pounds in
processed tomatoes annually, according to the U.S. Department
of Agriculture. Canned tomatoes can be more nutritious than
fresh because theyíre picked red and ripe and processed in a
manner that helps retain all the goodness. Scientists have
also discovered that packaged, heat-processed tomato products,
such as spaghetti sauce, can deliver over six times more
lycopene than the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes. This is
because the heat used during processing breaks down tomato
cell walls, allowing the lycopene to be better absorbed into
the digestive tract. Itís important to note that lycopene is
fatsoluble, making it more easily absorbed if eaten with fat.
So, add a little olive oil, cheese or meat to your favorite
tomato-based dish to reap the full benefit of lycopene.
What Antioxidants Do for You
Antioxidants are vital parts of a healthy diet. Lycopene is
known to be the most potent of all antioxidants. A diet rich
in Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of
cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Vitamin C lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps
thin blood and protects it against oxidation. Fat-soluble
vitamin A is involved in the formation and maintenance of
healthy skin, hair and mucous membranes. It helps us to see in
dim light and is necessary for proper bone growth, tooth
development, and reproduction.
How Can I Make Tomatoes Part of My Diet?
Here are some quick and easy additional ways to get your
daily dose of tomatoes:
Italian. Get in the habit of serving a side of
pasta with red sauce at dinner. Use crushed tomatoes to make
your own sauce at home, or use your favorite prepared
chili. Make a fast, savory chili by mixing a can
of whole tomatoes with a can of low-fat bean soup. Stir in
diced, fresh carrots, onions and a handful or two of
raisins. Season to taste with cumin and a shake of powdered
red to your greens. Toss some diced tomatoes in
your salad. Try diced tomatoes with added seasonings to add
Mix a small can of tomato sauce into meatloaf, along with
the other ingredients, to add extra flavor.
Ravioli with Tomatoes, Onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
medium zucchini, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with sweet onions
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Italian
1 pound frozen, prepared jumbo cheese or
meat ravioli, cooked, drained, kept warm
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Steps to prepare:
1. HEAT oil in a medium
saucepan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and garlic;
cook about 5 minutes stirring frequently until zucchini
2. STIR in tomatoes,
tomato paste and seasoning. Simmer over low heat,
uncovered, for 10 minutes.
3. POUR about 3 cups of
the zucchini-tomato sauce on serving platter. Place
ravioli over it then top with remaining sauce. Garnish
with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Prep time: 10 minutes;
Cooking time: 15 minutes; Serving Size:
239g; Servings: 4; Nutrition Facts: Calories Per
Serving: 320; Fat Calories Per Serving: 110; % Daily
Values*: Total Fat: 12g (19%); Saturated Fat:3.5g
(17%); Cholesterol: 115mg (38%); Sodium: 620mg (26%);
Total Carbohydrates: 36g (12%); Dietary Fiber: 2g (9%);
Sugars: 9g; Protein: 16g; Vitamin A: 15%; Vitamin C:
30%; Calcium: 20%; Iron: 10%
*Percent daily values are based
on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher
or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The American Dietetic Association Knowledge Center
For food and nutrition information or for a referral to a
dietetics professional in your area call: 800/366-1655 or
This fact sheet is sponsored by Huntísģ. The
contents have been reviewed by the American Dietetic
Associationís Fact Sheet Review Board. The appearance of this
information does not constitute an endorsement by ADA of the
sponsorís products or services. This fact sheet was prepared
for the general public. Questions regarding its content and
use should be directed to a dietetics professional. This fact
sheet expires 10/1/2005.
other convenient and nutritious recipes.
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