Did you know it’s American Heart Month AND Canned Food Month? That makes it the perfect time to talk about one of my favorite and most versatile canned foods – tomatoes! Whole, diced, fire-roasted…the tomato possibilities (tomatobilities?) are endless!
Why eat tomatoes?
- Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which helps protect our cells and may help prevent some cancers. Even better, when tomatoes are cooked (or canned), our bodies can more easily absorb the lycopene.
- Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C! Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system; keeping your cartilage, bones, teeth, and skin in top condition; helping your body absorb iron and folate; and it also may help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Tomatoes are a good source of potassium, which is an important nutrient in keeping our blood pressure in check. A healthy blood pressure is a key component to keeping our hearts happy!
- They can brighten up any dish! I can’t tell you the number of recipes that I’ve made that have been instantly improved by the addition of tomatoes. The citrus can add that punch of flavor you need!
Canned vs Fresh
- Eating tomatoes canned is a great way to enjoy them year-round! Although you can find fresh tomatoes in your grocery store year-round, tomatoes aren’t in season year-round.
- If tomatoes aren’t in season, then the fresh tomatoes that you see have likely traveled a ways to get to you and are going to be more expensive and not as fresh. Canned tomatoes are very affordable!
- Vegetables and fruit, including tomatoes, are typically canned at peak-ripeness, which means peak-nutrition and best flavor! Fresh tomatoes are also delicious and nutritious; however, during the time that it takes to ship the tomatoes to the store and then the time that they sit on the shelf at the grocery store and again sit on your counter at home, they are losing nutrients.
- Canned tomatoes have a long shelf-life, so you can keep a stock on hand to whip up a quick meal or snack on the fly.
Tips When Choosing Canned Tomatoes
- Go for canned tomatoes that are packed in 100% juice or their own juices. This decreases any additional added salt or sugar.
- Look for cans without any added salt. These should be labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium.” Don’t be fooled by the phrase “reduced sodium,” as these may not be sodium-free or even low sodium.
- The cans you choose should be free from damage, such as dents, bulges, and cracks. This can be a sign of the bacteria that causes botulism, which is a serious health concern. Thankfully, this is very uncommon in commercially canned goods!
- Check out more tips here for storing and using canned foods!
Check out some delish recipes below that utilize canned tomatoes!
- Lentil-Vegetable Soup (Got Nourishment?)
- Shakshuka with Fennel and Feta (A Sweet Spoonful)
- Homemade Salsa (The Kitchn)
- 10-Minute Tomato Sauce (America’s Test Kitchen)
- Chicken Tortilla Soup (PCC Market)
- One Skillet Shrimp, Tomato and Feta Stew (Kate Scarlata)
- One-Pot Chicken Thighs and Orzo (Abbie Gellman via Food & Nutrition Magazine)
- Ranchero Bean Bowl (Alexandra Caspero via Food & Nutrition Magazine)