Canned tomatoes are a staple in my house. I use them all the time to make tomato soup, tomato sauce, chili the list goes on. I always keep them in the pantry in their many forms. I have heard of the benefits of lycopene, commonly found in tomatoes. But recently, I was made aware of ConAgra Foods’ (the maker’s of Hunt’s Tomatoes) research findings on the heart healthy benefits of tomatoes.
Heart health has been on the top of my mind in recent years. 2 years ago we were surprised with an phone call that my mother-in-law had suddenly and unexpectedly suffered from a heart attack and stroke. Left paralyzed with a weakened heart she had an amazing will to survive. She wanted to live on and get better so she could be with us, her children and her grandchildren – the most important people in her life. I will never forget her strength, will and unwavering love she had for her family during the most difficult time in her life. Although she persevered and fought hard she began a decline and lost her battle this past January. Every day I look at my two young children and am inspired to keep myself and my husband heart healthy and do what I can to prevent heart disease in our family.
At the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo this year, ConAgra Foods presented the following on their findings:
- According to a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lycopene absorption is 2-3 times greater in canned tomato products than raw tomatoes.
- Using Hunt’s tomatoes is a great way to get a significant source of fiber, Vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene into your diet. “Calorie for calorie, tomatoes contain more than twice the potassium of other common sources such as bananas, potatoes, milk and orange juice.”
- The nutrients found in tomatoes can significantly impact heart disease prevention.
Incorporating tomatoes into our diets is an easy and delicious way to start improving our heart health. While we are talking about Hunt’s tomatoes, I would be remiss to not mention one of my very favorite products. Hunt’s Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. These are so good and tasty. I use them all the time, especially when I make chili. Hunt’s Tomatoes are flash-steamed helping them to keep their backyard garden fresh taste. They are also 100 percent natural and contain no artificial preservatives or ingredients.
Recipe: Cranberry-Tomato Meatballs
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- ½ tsp allspice
- 1 small onion grated
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 28 oz can Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
- 14 oz Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
- 21 oz whole berry cranberry sauce
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 3 tbs lemon juice fresh
- 8 oz. beef broth
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Make Meatballs: In a large bowl, using the tines of a fork or your hands, combine ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, onion, allspice, salt, pepper and garlic. Shape into balls 1″ in diameter. Heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep pot. Brown meatballs in pan and remove to paper towel lined plate and set a side.
- Make Sauce: Pour out excess oil from pot. Add in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, cranberry sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and beef broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Gently drop in meatballs. Simmer partially covered over low heat for 1 hour.
- Remove the cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes.
- Serve with crusty bread.
Disclaimer: I was part of a campaign by ConAgra Foods/Hunt’s Tomatoes and was compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.