20 Nov The Truth About Canned Tomatoes
By Toby Amidor, MS, RDN
In recent years, there has been some fear about canned tomatoes and their possible contamination with BPA (bisphenol-A). Let me cut straight to the chase and say that most of this fear is unwarranted, and I’ll explain why.
BPA is a synthetic compound found in many plastics, such as in water bottles and food containers, and in the lining of cans. It’s thought to be similar to estrogen and may have the ability to disrupt the function of other hormones in the body, and possibly negatively impact the brain. That being said, the research on the dangers of BPA is mixed. As a matter of fact, the FDA recently conducted a safety assessment of BPA and stated that the levels currently occurring in food are perfectly safe.
While no restrictions have been made in regards to the use of BPA, many companies have removed it from their products. If you’re concerned about BPA in your food, many companies label their products “BPA-free”, and even though they may not all be labelled, 90% of all canned tomatoes no longer contain BPA.
Health Benefits of Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes and tomato products contain a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. They’re also loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and lycopene. Tomatoes are actually cooked during the canning process, and lycopene has actually been found to be more absorbable by the body in its cooked form. Therefore, canned tomatoes actually have more of the cancer-fighting lycopene than the raw variety.
In The Kitchen
Canned tomatoes are permanent staple in my pantry. You can find them in many different forms, such as whole peeled, diced, stewed, crushed in puree, tomato paste and tomato puree. Here are some of my favorite ways to use canned tomatoes:
- Crushed tomatoes are a great base for a creamy tomato soup.
- Diced tomatoes are a nice addition to chili and curry.
- Whole crushed or stewed tomatoes can be used to make a homemade pasta sauce.
- Add tomato paste and/or diced tomatoes to homemade soups.
- Use fire-roasted crushed tomatoes to make a salsa for chicken and fish.