Here at Consiglio's nothing gets us more excited than tomato season and tomato sauce! Not only are they tasty and a staple of Italian cuisine, it turns out tomatoes are incredibly healthy, and there are a ton of health benefits from making your own sauce.
This week, we look at the health benefits of tomatoes and tomato sauce, and why it’s best (and healthiest) to make your own.
Tomatoes are good for you - seems like a given, right? Fruit and vegetables are healthy, and so it can be reasonably assumed that tomatoes are too - but, as it turns out, there’s a lot more to it than that. Not only are tomatoes tasty and healthy for you, but they are becoming more and more popular for their dietary and health benefits as “superfoods” and antioxidants.” Essentially, eating tomatoes and tomato sauce has been linked with decreased risk of aging, heart disease, diabetes and multiple forms of cancers - and to truly understand why, we have to take a look at what’s going on with both the human body and tomatoes.
In order to look at tomatoes as being healthy, we have to look to look at science and the human body. A lot of illnesses and diseases are increasingly being associated with free radicals - both a chemistry term, and a process that naturally occurs in the human body.
Basically, free radicals are atoms or a collection of atoms with extra unpaired electrons - caused by oxygen entering the body and splitting into single atoms. Just like oxygen aging and rusting a car over time, the human body also experiences oxidation - which results in free radicals. This is important because free radicals are unstable and can thus damage the cells within your body, resulting in aging and a range of illnesses and diseases. Various studies have connected bodily stress caused by free radicals to everything from nervous system diseases (like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia), to heart disease, clogged arteries, inflammatory disorders, arthritis, diabetes and various forms of cancer - they’re are also linked to aging, wrinkles, graying hair, and hair loss.
While free radicals sound kinda terrifying, thankfully there is a natural response in the way of antioxidants - antioxidants combat the formation of free radicals by giving up one of their electrons, thereby stabilizing the atom and reducing their reactivity. What makes antioxidants super important is that they are able to donate one of their electrons without then becoming unstable themselves. The best part is that not only are tomatoes a great source of antioxidants, but they contain two key components that counteract and prevent many of them harms done by free radicals.
Lutein gets its name from the Latin word luteus (yellow), and is a naturally occurring compound found only in plants. Depending on concentration, lutein can be used as a pigment and colourant along the yellow-to-red spectrum.
Since lutein only naturally occurs in plants, all animals and humans have to derive it from dietary sources such as tomatoes. Lutein in humans has been found to concentrate in the eyes - namely a small area of the retina called the macula - and has been shown to counteract the onset of an eye disease by the name of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as cataracts. Some research suggests that lutein can reduce the risk of eye strain and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Lycopene is a naturally occuring carotene (pigment important to photosynthesis), and gets its name from the word Licopersicum, the scientific name for the tomato species of plants. Lycopene is insoluble in water, and is what gives tomatoes (and some other red fruits and vegetables) their bright red colour - in addition to tomatoes it’s also found in watermelon and papayas. Though you may not realize it, you’re likely already very familiar with lycopene as it is the culprit behind tomato sauce staining your tupperware (or favourite shirts for the clumsy foodies among us).
Lycopene, essentially, is what makes tomatoes so healthy as it acts as a very, very powerful antioxidant - and, as mentioned above, antioxidants combat the formation of naturally occuring free radicals, making lycopene (and tomatoes) very useful in preventing a wide range of illnesses.
Lycopene from dietary sources has been shown to reduce risk for everything from eye disease, to asthma, cardiovascular disease, prostate growth, various types of cancer (breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, oral, pancreatic, prostate, kidney), gingivitis, and cataracts - it’s also shown benefits for lowering high cholesterol, counteracting male fertility problems, decreasing the risk of sunburn, and counteracting menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, joint pain, anxiety and depression.
So, not only is lycopene good for you health, it turns out that cooking it at eating it in the form of tomato sauce actually increases it health benefits.
Now that we’ve established the science behind the health benefits of tomatoes and tomato sauce, we need to get into exactly why it’s best that you make your own sauce - and it all comes down to controlling what you, your family and your friends put into your bodies. Not only does making your own sauce give you all of the health benefits that come with eating tomatoes, it allows you to maximize them AND cut out any additional additives that come with pre-packaged products. Compare the store bought tomato sauce next to our Consiglio’s Tomato Sauce Recipe for Canning - our recipe has four ingredients (tomatoes, preserving agent of either lemon juice or citric acid, herbs, and salt), while all store bought brands will have at least double the ingredients, including extra fat, salt and sugar.
By making your own sauce, you get to control the ingredients - both for taste, and health. Whether you are cutting back on salt or controlling sugars, or are just generally looking to be more mindful of what you eat, making your own tomato sauce lets you control every element. Are you for or against pesticides, GMO, or organic movements? GREAT!!! When you make your own sauce from scratch, you get to control ALL of the elements - whether you grow your own tomatoes, or buy from a local grower.
Not only is making your own tomato sauce the healthiest option, it's also really, really easy too. Here at Consiglio’s we’ve covered our love for making tomato sauce pretty extensively in the past - and we always come back to Fabio Leonardi manual and electric tomato mills to get the job done. Whether it be making your own sauce, or trouble shooting problems with your Fabio Leonardi tomato milling machines, we’ve got you covered! Check out the article index below, and never hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got a question!