Properties of natural and packaged fried tomato

“Tomato is a common food in the kitchen. It has great nutritional properties that are not destroyed by heat. After passing through the pan or the casserole, the tomatoes remain rich in vitamin C and minerals. Fried or boiled, they are even a major source of lycopene, a vegetable pigment from the group of carotenoids that gives the typical red color and is characterized by a great antioxidant capacity.

The fried tomato is the mixture of tomato puree, oil, sugar, salt and, sometimes, other ingredients such as pepper. When it is packaged, various additives are also added. It is a product rich in vitamin C and mineral salts, although it provides about 80 calories per 100 g due to the oil and sugar it contains. The latter is necessary to reduce acidity and soften the taste.

Product quality

With packaged tomato sauce you save time in the kitchen. It is convenient to check on the label the amount of salt and the type of oil that has been used when cooking it. Some products contain monosodium glutamate (E-621), a flavor enhancing additive that causes intolerance in certain people (Chinese restaurant syndrome). For these, it is preferable to opt for the homemade sauce.

Other ingredients that can be added are: gums, a type of fiber that acts as a stabilizer, and citric acid (E-330), which is used as an antioxidant and to reduce the pH (degree of acidity) of preserves.

The main advantage of the tomato sauce that is prepared at home is the possibility of controlling the quality of the vegetable (especially if the mash is also homemade), the quantity and quality of the oil and the added salt.

Excellent source of antioxidants

Fried or boiled tomato is a greater source of lycopene than raw tomato. Lycopene is a plant pigment that belongs to the group of carotenoids. It gives the typical red color to tomatoes and, unlike beta-carotene, it is not transformed into vitamin A. Because of this, for a time it was thought that this substance lacked physiological importance.

However, more and more research shows the importance of lycopene for health thanks to its antioxidant property: it helps fight anti-radicals that cause cell damage and prevent cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer (prostate) and, in general , the aging of the organism. Various studies indicate that it strengthens the immune system.

The largest source of lycopene is found in tomatoes, but it is also present in other richly colored fruits and vegetables, such as apricots, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit. The amount assimilated and the degree of use of this substance in the body depend on the maturity, the variety and the way of cooking the tomato.”

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