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    Archive for the ‘tomatoes’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Popular Healthy Foods

    Why is it that there is much talk about eating olive oil, wine, and tomato products and not simply olives, grapes, and tomatoes?

    Surely the benefits of the processed forms are even more present in the whole form of the food.

    Or is that not the case?

    — Corey Clark
    (Location withheld)

    I love this “thinking cap turned on” question!

    Here is my take on each of the pairings:

    Olive oil vs. olives: Everyone cooks with some sort of fat; not everyone eats olives.

    So, in order to have as many people as possible reap the benefits of olives, it makes more sense to suggest they use olive oil in their cooking/salad dressings rather than eat olives.

    Also, olives have a much stronger flavor than olive oil. Many people who enjoy olive oil do not find olives palatable.

    Although olives offer more vitamins and minerals than olive oil, 120 calories of olives (equal to 1 tablespoon of olive oil) offers almost half of the daily recommended limit of sodium!

    Tomato products vs. whole tomatoes: Cooked tomatoes offer higher levels of lycopene than their raw counterparts.

    Wine vs. grapes: This is one I never understood. Grapes offer the same healthy compounds as wine. This is why I always tell people that if they regularly eat grapes but do not drink wine, they are not missing out on any health benefits!

    I personally think this comes back to the “reaching as many people as possible” goal that applies to olive oil.

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    In The News: A Little Processing Never Hurts

    Today’s Chicago Tribune reports that tomato paste (made by rehydrating tomato powder) appears to be more beneficial in lowering prostate cancer risk than actual tomatoes.

    Researchers believe this is due not only to a higher lycopene content in cooked tomatoes, but also the presence of “FruHis—a carbohydrate present in dehydrated tomato products.”

    The studies have thus far only been done on rats, but investigators would like to see clinical trials on humans next.

    Although the article appears to make the point that this goes against commonly held beliefs that “natural is best,” I don’t consider tomato paste to be a processed food.

    Yes, technically it undergoes processing (hence the addition of some sodium, although sodium-free varieties are available), but my idea of a tomato-based processed food would be “veggie chips” with tomatoes in them.

    After all, tomato paste is made from… tomatoes (as opposed to, say, tomato-flavored corn starch).

    What this article unmistakably shows is that heating vegetables often unlocks higher amounts of nutrients and antioxidants.

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    Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: Pasta Sauce

    There you are on a weekday night, prepping what appears to be a very healthy — and quick — dinner: whole wheat fussili topped with half a cup of marinara sauce and a medley of steamed broccoli, spinach, and sauteed onions and peppers.

    Fiber? Check.

    Protein? Check.

    Lycopene? Check.

    Vitamin C? Check.

    Four teaspoons of sugar? Check.

    A third of a day’s maximum sodium recommendation? Check.

    (Insert sound of record coming to a screeching halt here).

    Tomato-based pasta sauces are, in theory, nutritionally superior to cream-based ones.

    Unfortunately, many popular brands provide as much sugar as half a can of Coke — and as much salt as four strips of bacon — in a mere half cup serving.

    Some of the worst offenders are listed below (remember, these values are for just a half cup)!

    Ragu Old World Style Marinara Sauce: 780 milligrams of sodium
    Ragu Old World Style Traditional sauce: 780 milligrams of sodium

    Prego “With meat” Sauce: 12 grams (1 tablespoon) of added sugar

    Ragu Chunky Garden Style sauce: 13 grams (1 tablespoon) of added sugar

    Prego Traditional Sauce: 15 grams (1.3 tablespoons) of added sugar

    Did I mention they all contain high fructose corn syrup?

    To make sure your healthy pasta dishes aren’t tainted by sauces, take a look at the label.

    Choose ones offering no more than 4 grams of sugar and 350 milligrams of sodium per half cup serving.

    Some recommendations? Colavita, Rao’s, and Muir Glen Organic.

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