Many Health Benefits in Tomaotes

3 July, 2005 (14:53)

RECIPES: Sweet Chili Sauce

By Rae Udy

Tomatoes are so tasty and nutritious when picked right from the garden, but they may be even better for you after cooking.
Lycopene, the ingredient that makes a tomato red, is a potent antioxidant. Research from Venket Rao, Ph.D. at the University of Toronto provides evidence that levels of lycopene are increased when tomatoes are processed into sauces, purees, ketchup and soups.
Lycopene has been in the news since a 1995 Harvard study linked a reduced risk of prostate cancer when men consumed a diet rich in tomato products.
“The latest findings on the benefits of tomatoes suggest they may also play a role in lung and vision function,� said Daniel Nixon, MD and president of the American Health Foundation. His research suggests tomato-based foods may protect against age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and other diseases of the eye.
A study conducted at the Environmental Protection Agency in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, showed a 12 percent increase in lung lycopene levels and a 20 percent decrease in oxidative damage in the lungs in people who consumed tomato products daily for just two weeks. Oxidative damage to the lungs is associated with high levels of ozone.
In this study, pasta sauce, tomato soup and V8 vegetable juice all increased blood concentration of lycopene.
Tomatoes are nutritional powerhouses. With only 35 fat-free calories, a medium tomato provides protein, calcium, thiamine, niacin and both vitamins A and C.
Never refrigerate a unripe tomato, cold temperatures destroy flavor and will stop the ripening process. Once fully ripe a tomato can be chilled, but only for a few days to prevent loss of flavor. To hasten ripening you can place the tomatoes in a brown bag until they give slightly when squeezed. Also storing tomatoes next to bananas will make them both ripen quicker.
Look for locally organic grown tomatoes at the Farmers Market or check the newspaper produce ads for tomatoes in bulk.

3 quarts peeled and chopped tomatoes
3 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 Tablespoons canning salt
1/4 (one-quarter) cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mixed pickling spices
Combine tomatoes, celery, onion, peppers and salt in a large bowl. Cover and let stand overnight in a cool place. Drain in colander, but do not rinse or press vegetables. Place vinegar and sweetener in a large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to syrup along with vegetables. Bring back to simmer and stir often for twenty minutes. Remove spices. Ladle into hot, clean canning jars to within one-half inch thick of top. Wipe jar rims and adjust new canning lids. Process in boiling water for ten minutes. Carefully remove jars from canner and cool on dry towels. Test for seal by pressing the center of each jar when completely cool, if lid pops up and down, the jar did not seal. Label each jar and store in a dark, dry, cool place. Yields eight pints.

Tomatoes bring benefits and great taste to a vegetarian diet. (photo by Rae Udy)

Posted in Canning for the Vegetarian

Write a comment