January 02


Starting off a New Year with Tomato Health!

Table for Two: Tomato Nutrition & You

by Sharon Palmer, RD

It’s great to dine out—delicious food, great conversation with friends and family, and no cooking or cleaning up are your rewards.  But eating out is often a decadent experience, filled with super-sized portions of starchy foods and meats that are short on veggies.  If you eat out regularly, you can be missing out of one of the most important food groups on your plate—vegetables.  These plant foods are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that offer antioxidant health protection—all in a low-calorie bundle.  One way to make sure you’re fitting in a serving or two of veggies while dining out is to look for the color red—the calling card for tomato products, such as canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice and salsa.  Including tomato products in your meal choice is an easy way to power up on vegetables.

Tomato products are rich in the powerful antioxidant group, carotenoids, which have been shown to inactivate free radicals, protect against cancer, and slow development of atherosclerosis.  Research suggests that lycopene, the most plentiful carotenoid that tomatoes contain, could be linked to the health-protective effects of tomato products.  In addition, lycopene in processed tomato products is better absorbed than that of fresh tomatoes.  Regular intake of tomato products has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, improving lipid panels, and may also aid in treating hypertension.

And studies show that if you fill up on high-fiber, low-calorie, high-volume foods, such as tomato products, it can help you lower your calorie intake and manage your weight better.  This is definitely a helpful tool when you’re eating out, where it’s easy to be tempted to eat more calories than you need.

Order Red!

Best of all, tomato products are simply delicious; some of your favorite restaurant dishes may include tomato products.  So, go head, look for the color red on the restaurant menu and order away.  Look for menu items that call upon nutritious, delicious tomato ingredients, including marinara sauce, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, and salsa.  Start off your dining experience right by ordering a cup of hot, comforting tomato basil soup, cup of chili, salsa, bruschetta, or flat bread pizza as an appetizer.  Entrees such as pasta dishes, enchiladas, or tostadas are also excellent ways to include tomato products in your entrée choices.

By including tomato products in your appetizers and meals when eating out, you will not only be ordering a delicious meal, but also a daily serving of vegetables that provide a bounty of health protective benefits.  Take a look at our list of common restaurant menu items to help you include tomato health in your next order!

Look for Tomato Products on the Menu

Here’s a list of delicious, nutritious restaurant menu items that call upon the power of tomato products.

Popular Restaurant Menu Items Featuring Tomato Products

Beef Stew
Eggplant Parmesan
Indian Curry Dishes
Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce
Pasta with Marinara Sauce
Shrimp Cocktail
Tomato Soup
Tomato-based Vegetable Soup







Written by Sharon Palmer, RD