Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Cook With Tomatoes

By Alana Sugar, August 10, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
Fusilli PastaI say "tomato," my dad says "tamater," but no matter how you say it, these precious fruits have got one thing going for them that just about everybody knows how to say: lycopene. You've heard of it, I'm sure. Lycopene has its own publicity team, complete with sponsored studies, TV commercials and a dedicated website. So, what is lycopene anyway? It's the bright red pigment found most abundantly in ripe red tomatoes and, in lesser amounts, in pink grapefruit, pink guava, red carrots and watermelon. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant - a prominent member of the carotenoid family. It gained fame when studies showed that having a higher intake of tomatoes or higher levels of lycopene in the blood correlated with cancer protection. Additional studies showed that unlike many other nutrients that are destroyed by cooking, lycopene becomes more available for your body to absorb and use. That's good news for spaghetti, lasagna and pizza lovers! Cooking, processing, canning and serving with oil (think olive!) boosts the assimilation of lycopene into your bloodstream. Why oil? Lycopene is fat soluble. That means oil helps your body grab onto the nutrient. According to the USDA, a fresh tomato contains 3.7 mg of lycopene, a 1/2 cup of canned tomatoes has 11.8 mg, and 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce has 19.4 mg. Do you love to toss some raw tomatoes into a salad or simply pop those lovely cherry tomatoes in your mouth as a healthy snack? Go right ahead! While lycopene is more available when cooked, there's a lot to love about raw tomatoes, like the fact that they're an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A. Itching to get cooking with tomatoes? Here are some ideas. Of course, there's no limit to the uses for canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Here are just a few recipes to get you started: So, how do you like your lycopene? I'll take mine with some dark green olive oil, fresh basil and a sprinkling of Manchego cheese from Spain.
Category: Healthy Eating




Meenakshi says ...
You are speaking to my heart here! I love tomatoes, I grow them and use them extensively in chutneys, curries, appetizers, salads and what not! I think my favorite is a tomato chutney (http://onestopeats.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/savory-tamatar-tomato-chutney/) that goes well with almost everything! Think my next fav is Bruschetta.... mmm! as I type this I can actually smell the goodess (http://onestopeats.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/bruschetta-and-asparagus-with-lemon-sauce/). There are so many more!
08/10/2009 1:05:42 PM CDT
Breanna says ...
Ohh, I do love tomatoes. Nothing beats a chunky marinara on whole wheat pasta with shaved parm. However, every summer I look forward to a fresh caprese salad: ripe tomatoes, just-picked basil, hunks of mozzarella, olive oil, salt and pepper...it's one of my favorite things on EARTH.
08/11/2009 10:34:16 AM CDT
home-grown tomatoes says ...
there is nothing better than home made ketchup from home grown tomatoes. We use an old neighborhood recipe from when everyone would harvest at the same time, spend most of the day cooking up the ketchup and useing an old bottle capping machine to fill all the old wine/7-up bottles we could get our hands on. Now the production is small, made once a summer from farmers' market tomatoes from Dirty Girl Farms.
08/11/2009 11:01:53 AM CDT
Eva says ...
There really is nothing better than good summer tomatoes, especially organically homegrown ones. When I was a girl growing up in North Carolina, we ate tomatoes almost every meal. Breakfast was diced tomatoes tossed into scrambled eggs with a bit of shredded cheese, lunch was thick slices of yummy tomato on homemade bread with "Dukes" mayonaise sometimes with thick crisp bacon, sometimes with "Country" ham (I use Best Foods or homemade mayo today and skip the meat) always served with simple potato chips and iced tea, and dinner was a simple salad of homegrown lettuce and other vegetables from the garden with big chunks of tomato to accompany any grilled meat or fish and other garden fresh vegies such as okra, squash or grilled corn. Summer and really flavorful tomatoes...what could be better?
08/11/2009 12:09:06 PM CDT
Kimberly says ...
I like my lycopene in Indian Dal soup. Yes please!
08/11/2009 12:47:19 PM CDT
Sandra A says ...
I love fresh tomatoes with pine nuts and coursely chopped basil and Olive Oil. I also love making salsa.
08/11/2009 8:10:42 PM CDT
Monique says ...
Bruschetta!!!! I love it and it is easy to prepare. Here is a link to my recipe http://www.passionatelycuriousblog.com/2009/08/tomato-domination.html
08/12/2009 7:04:59 PM CDT
HJ says ...
I have heard from many medical sources that tomatoes do not have enough amounts of lycopene to be significant in your daily diet. I say this because for men that have prostate issues, things like lycopene are important. Don't be tricked thinking that eating lots of tomatoes are gong to help you. I just thought that word should be out, no one should ever get dooped.
08/22/2009 10:42:44 PM CDT