Tomatoes are, in the words of the experts, a superfood. The famous fruit/veggie-like berry is on pretty much all healthy foods list.
The reasoning is simple: they are a fruit that works like a perfect vegetable in your meals and salads. They have a low level of sugar in them – which is very uncommon for a fruit. This is why this confusing delicacy usually finds its way into all your recipes disguised as a vegetable.
So alright, the tomato is a superfood, it’s healthy for you, it’s delicious. But what if we turn it into a sauce? Can you eat tomato sauce on Paleo?
To find answers for that we need to figure out a couple of things. What exactly is tomato sauce, and how different is it from its main ingredient, the tomato?
Can You Eat Tomato Sauce On Paleo?
The answer to this question seems pretty straight forward at first glance. Tomato sauce is, after all, mostly tomato. So to simplify it for now, YES – you can eat tomato sauce on the Paleo diet.
But it gets complicated real quick.
While yes, in its most simple form, a homemade tomato sauce is completely Paleo-friendly. But the accent is on that homemade part of the sentence. Once you go to the store-bought sauces you risk getting some unhealthy substances involved. So we’re going to help you figure out how to make the best sauce and what to avoid when buying it.
Just to be clear before we go on – store-bought products are not bad. Sure, the homemade version can be better, but that’s not a rule. The advantage that any homemade food has is that you control what goes in. For us Paleo folks, this can be a great thing, since you can’t get tricked into packing yourself full with refined sugar. Slice up some tomatoes and cook them or go to the market and get a can of the stuff – it’s all fine by us.
How To Make Paleo-Worthy Tomato Sauce And What To Look Out For?
The main recipe for making tomato sauce is this:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Brown Onions
- Small Carrots
- Fresh Parsley
- Dried and Fresh Basil
- Tomato Paste
- Salt And Pepper
As you can see, the recipe is completely Paleo-Friendly – kind of. All of the ingredients are allowed in the Paleo diet, but the Tomato Paste can pose as a problem.
What Is Tomato Paste?
Tomato paste is one of the more important parts of the sauce. On its own, it seems like it’s perfectly safe. But like the sauce, it can be Paleo-friendly but you have to be careful with what kind you’re getting.
It’s quite easy to make. All you need is some olive oil, sea salt, citric acid and LOTS of tomatoes.
Olive oil, sea salt and the tomatoes are safe, but the citric acid could cause some problems. See, while citric acid is natural (our bodies can make the stuff for heaven’s sake), manufacturers like to save money. They do this by not using citrus fruits to make it, but alternatives like corn, yeast or sugar beets. So yes, natural citric acid is fine – but these alternatives are not.
This problem can be avoided easily. If you’re making the paste yourself, just make sure to use the right kind of citric acid.
But it’s getting complicated, and you probably thought to yourself: “I can make the sauce myself, fine. But now I have to make the ingredients for it myself too?”
Well no, you don’t have to. Like we said a moment ago, buying your food in the store is not a bad thing. But make sure to read all the labels, and buy your food at a market that you can trust.
Buying tomato sauce at the market is a perfectly fine way of getting it. Find brands that you can trust at the stores you can trust and stay loyal to them. The Paleo lifestyle can be a tricky one. Getting over the hump of finding the best locations to get your food is the biggest part of the whole thing. So if you do that, all this other stuff will be just fine.
Health Benefits Of Tomato Sauce
The health benefits of tomato sauce are pretty similar to tomatoes themselves. The fact that making tomato sauce involves cooking the fruit makes some people worried.
A lot of research has been done on the subject. Raw tomatoes bring with them the reputation of being a healthful food that helps your body function better. But can the same thing be said for cooked tomatoes?
Well, tomato soup sure has a good reputation, so we don’t see why tomato sauce should be any different. To be safe, let’s dig through the information and see what’s going on.
Lowering The Risk Of Diabetes
Tomatoes are confusing food – you might have thought your whole life that they are a vegetable, and you were sort of right. Tomatoes are a berry (so a fruit) that has almost no sugar in them. This is why they were part of the veggie family for so long. Fruits are sweet, tomatoes are not, and people just sort of went by with the information they had.
Well whatever they are, the low sugar numbers mean that glucose can fill up your arteries. Which in turn, means your body can regulate it with healthy levels of insulin.
But be warned, tomato sauce can have added sugars in it. This is why you should always read the labels. As long as you are sure the sauce you’re buying is all-natural, the risk of diabetes should be a low one.
Tomatoes are full of Vitamin C. You can cook them, bake them or roast them – the Vitamin C will be there. So what is that good?
Well besides Vitamin C, tomatoes have a lot of other antioxidants. The combination of these substances results in a bad time for free radicals. Free radicals have the ability to form into cancer cells. Now, this isn’t to say that tomato sauce can help cure cancer, but research has shown that it can in some ways help prevent them.
Great For Blood Pressure (Kind of)
As we will see when we get to the Nutritional part of the article, Tomato Sauce is low in sodium. This is generally a benefit, but our favorite sauce has another trick up its sleeve.
Tomatoes have high levels of potassium. The combination of low sodium and high potassium levels means that your blood pressure is going to be thankful for your choice of foods. Potassium helps widen the arteries, making the job of pumping blood through your body easier than usual.
But the problem is, store-bought tomato sauces can contain unnecessary levels of salt and other substances that make the sodium numbers go up.
The potassium is still there though, so your body can balance these things out.
If you’re making the sauce yourself, you can control how much sodium goes in, which means you can make it as healthy you want.
I Heart Tomato Sauce
This is going to be a mix of good and bad news. While tomatoes have high levels of lycopene, cooked tomatoes could tell a different story.
Lycopene is a substance that has been proven to help with a wide variety of heart problems. So while tomatoes are great for the old blood machine, research has shown that cooking them could make the lycopene useless for your body.
The studies are not completely sure this is always the case, but it is something we have to mention.
Nutritional Values Of Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes are a low-calorie food that can do wonders to your body, health-wise. But does tomato sauce fall into the same league? Let’s find out:
Nutritional Values Of Tomato Sauce
The numbers you see here are the kind of average between store-bought products and homemade sauces. These numbers are quite similar to just plain regular tomatoes. The reason is that tomato sauce is a tomato but in a different form factor. None of the things in the recipe are of high caloric value. Besides that, they don’t go overboard with fats or sugars.
To put it simply – nutrition-wise, tomato sauce is the same thing as a bunch of tomatoes.
Can You Eat Tomato Sauce On Paleo – Final Words
Tomato sauce is a simple and beautiful taste that you can include in your meals. Sure you can’t put it on every single plate with any food, But if you happen to bump into a nice portion of wings – go ahead and drench them in the stuff.
The health benefits are present, though there are some minimal differences to raw tomatoes. Nevertheless, it is a healthy addition that’s worth every penny if you buy it, and every second if you decide to make it yourself. A healthy Paleo-friendly sauce – what more could you ask for?