Ways to Include Tomatoes in Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet


If you are a tomato lover, you probably know about some of the health benefits of tomatoes. Some studies have shown tomatoes may be a good food to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet. Not only are tomatoes low in fat, this fruit also contains phytosterols, vitamins, antioxidants, and other healthy nutrients. Tomatoes can play a large role in your diet, and can be incorporated into practically any type of dish - whether you are looking to include it in your snacks or in a large meal.

These tips will show you healthy ways to incorporate tomatoes in your lipid-lowering diet.

Eat Them Alone

Out of all of the ways to consume tomatoes, no one ever really thinks of consuming them by themselves. In actuality, tomatoes can make a delicious, low-calorie snack. Although consuming them raw may not be as appetizing, you can grill, roast, or broil them with your favorite spices and herbs to yield a tasty treat. However, you should be careful what you add to your tomatoes - adding salt or creamy dips could diminish the healthiness of your snack.

Stuff It…Or Use It as a Filler

Tomatoes are also very versatile - not only do they make a flavorful addition to tacos or cannelloni, you can hollow out the tomato to include healthy ingredients that can become infused with a hearty tomato taste. Unfortunately, some ingredients included in these foods could add extra fat to your diet.

For instance, some recipes using stuffed tomatoes may also call for the use of fatty ground beef.

When preparing your stuffed tomatoes, swap out the beef for ground chicken or turkey instead. You could also focus on using ingredients that are lower in saturated fat - such as whole grains, shaved almonds, vegetables, and beans - all of which could add just as much flavor without the added calories.

If you would like to add more protein, leaner options include fish - such as tuna or cod - or soy protein.

These same tips can be applied if you are using tomatoes as a filler for foods, such as wraps, pastas, or tacos. 

Use in a Sauce or Garnish

It doesn’t matter whether or not you dice them, slice them, or crush them - tomatoes can be an excellent alternative to other condiments to include in your meal plans. Instead of using gravies or creams, use a saucy tomato blend to spice up your dish. You can use other healthy ingredients, such as spices, herbs, and finely chopped veggies to liven up your tomato sauces and salsas even more.  If you are making a tomato-based sauce, you should avoid adding refined sugars - which can be a source of hidden calories. 

There are many bottled tomato sauces also available if you don't feel like making your own. Just be sure to check the nutrition label on these containers, since some of these sauces may have extra salt, sugar, and oils added to them.

Include in Your Soups and Stews

Tomatoes are commonly added to many soups and stews as a healthy way to add a lot of flavor.

When it comes to a soup or stew, practically any combination of ingredients can be added to give you a wide variety. Just make sure you are adding heart-healthy ingredients - which include beans, chickpeas, lentils, whole grains, herbs, and vegetables.

Although higher in saturated fat compared to other proteins, you can use beef or pork - just make sure that you are trimming excess fat from the meat before placing it in the soup. If you are looking for a healthier alternative for your cholesterol-lowering diet, you should use leaner meats - such as poultry, tofu, or your favorite fish - instead.

You should also limit the amount of sour cream, cheese, and sausage that you add - since all of these can increase the calorie and saturated fat content of your soup or stew.

Although tomatoes can just be part of the soup, there are some soups that solely consist of tomato as the main ingredient - whether it is served chunky or as a smooth puree. When preparing these soups and stews, you should avoid creaming them, since the heavy cream or full-fat milk can also add extra fat and calories to the soup. A heart-healthy way to add flavor would be to sprinkle in a little basil or oregano instead of using salt.

Toss It In

Tomatoes can be tossed into just about any type of meal. The next time you’re hunting for ingredients to mix into your salad, dice a whole tomato and toss it in. Sandwiches and side dishes are just a few other food items that tomatoes can be included - giving you a flavorful dish without having to heap on calories and fat to your meal.

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