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Sundried Tomato

Bone healthy tomatoes

· Spice

What is a tomato? Is it a fruit or a vegetable? While you are still confused about its category, I am introducing it as a spice.

SO sorry, I don’t mean to add to your confusion but whether you call tomato a fruit, a vegetable or a spice, using it generously and enjoying its health benefits is crucial … isn’t it ?

What's special about sundried tomato ?

Sundried tomatoes are a characteristic delicacy of Italy. It’s believed that Latin Italians dried their tomatoes in the summer sun to preserve excess tomatoes.

Tomatoes are called “sun-dried” when all the moisture is removed, but all the nutrients are still intact. Sundried tomatoes are made by drying them in sun. The Sun drying process can be tricky as they need a specific temperature range. This can take anywhere from 4 to 14 days. You can buy them from the store or make them on your own, sun-dried tomatoes are super-concentrated with healthful vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as coumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, and tomatine, all of which have anti-disease activity.

Lycopene gives tomatoes their rich, red color. Several research studies have highlighted the health benefits of lycopene from tomatoes. We will explore them shortly in the health benefits below. But remember, Lycopene is readily available by our body when consumed with fat-rich foods, such as avocado, olive oil or nuts.

But our body cannot manufacture lycopene unlike some other nutrients. Food is our only source of lycopene. More than 80% lycopene in our diet comes from tomatoes and tomato products. According to researchers sundried tomatoes are winner among all products by providing whooping amount of lycopene. To produce 1 ounce of sundried tomatoes you need 10 tomatoes. No wonder, using even an ounce of sundried tomato provide you all the health benefits.

More about sundried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are sold in two forms: Dry-packed tomatoes and Oil-packed tomatoes

Dry ones look like dried fruit and are available in packages.

Oil packed ones are dry ones, submerged in oil and in flavorings like herbs and garlic. Oil-packed are available in jars in whole and in cut (circular or in little strips) form.

You can use the dried tomatoes by rehydrating them in warm water to plump them up. You can use oil-packed tomatoes by draining them of oil before using. Make sure you don’t discard this oil, it’s very flavorful you can use it in salad, sauces or for flavoring other dishes.

Health benefits

1. Bone healthy tomatoes.

Antioxidant lycopene is believed to decrease oxidative stress and have beneficial effects on bone health.

According to researchers in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, lycopene might play a role in bone health by helping bone-building cells and blocking bone-destroying cells. One of the researchers stated that eating tomatoes and tomato products rich in lycopene may be considered as a one of the alternatives to medication for osteoporosis

2. Heart Healthy tomatoes.

In a study on lycopene and heart disease, researchers observed dietary intakes of 1,400 people. Out of them half had suffered from a heart attack. Focusing mainly on three powerful antioxidants—vitamin E, beta carotene, and lycopene, researchers found that only lycopene was linked to a lower rate of heart attacks.

Lycopene helps in keeping the heart strong and arteries flexible in three ways : by blocking the formation of “bad” LDL cholesterol, by thinning blood, and by lowering high blood pressure.

In a very interesting study stated in “The British Journal of Nutrition”, 21 healthy people were asked to eat lycopene rich diet. For three weeks they consumed two cups of tomato juice and one ounce of ketchup. After three weeks, their LDL had dropped by 13 percent and their total cholesterol by 6 percent. The researchers also found that the tomato-rich diet cut the oxidation of LDL, reducing its ability to turn into artery-clogging plaque. This study was mentioned in the book “Healing Spices” by Bharat B. Aggarwal.

3. Cancer fighting tomatoes.

Many studies have been conducted on tomato, lycopene, and prostate cancer. Results show that eating tomato-based foods regularly can help prevent and treat the disease. Lycopene is believed in reducing the risk of numerous other cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer and pancreatic cancer. Several other studied were conducted which reported encouraging results on lycopene fighting cancers of the bladder, cervix, liver, lung, stomach, and blood.

In short, lycopene with its anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties is excellent in preventing and fighting cancer.

How to make sun-dried tomatoes in Sun?

1. Cut tomatoes in slices. (Optional-Remove the seeds).

2. Arrange slices on parchment paper on oven trays, without slices touching each other.

3. Sprinkle with salt.

4. Place the trays in hot sun early in the morning and bring in at night. Do this for couple of days.

Note: You can use dehydrator to make dried tomatoes.

How to make oven-dried tomatoes?

1. Cut tomatoes in slices. (Optional-Remove the seeds).

2. Arrange slices on parchment paper on oven trays, without slices touching each other.

3. Sprinkle with salt.

4. Pre-heat oven to 200°F and put the trays there for 8-10 hours. Check them often. Make sure there is no sign of moisture left.

For storage:

Store home dried tomatoes in sealed container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Using in kitchen

• Eat them as a nutritious snack.

• Chop them and add into soups, stews, or sauces to give the dishes a rich color and flavor.

• replace fresh tomatoes with sundried ones in sandwiches.

• Chop and add to tuna, chicken, or green salads.

• Slice and serve them in pasta dishes.

Bonus tip: Tomato and broccoli together are super effective.

We know that being from cruciferous family broccoli is a famous cancer fighter. Tomato is excellent against all types of cancer. In one of the researches at the University of Illinois, scientists found that broccoli and tomato together more effectively reduced the risk of prostate cancer than either one alone.