Are you a fan of tomato sauce?
Whether you enjoy it on your pasta, as a base for your favorite Mexican salsa, or as a condiment for your fries, you might be wondering what food group it belongs to.
Well, wonder no more!
In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional value of tomato sauce and reveal which food group it falls under according to the USDA.
So, grab a seat and get ready to learn more about this versatile and delicious sauce!
What Food Group Is Tomato Sauce In?
Tomato sauce is a member of the Vegetables and Vegetable Products food group according to the USDA. This means that it is classified as a vegetable and is considered a healthy addition to your diet.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. When tomatoes are cooked down into a sauce, these nutrients become even more concentrated, making tomato sauce a nutritious choice.
In addition to its nutritional value, tomato sauce is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is commonly used as a base for pasta sauces, but it can also be used as a topping for pizza, as a dip for vegetables or bread, or as a condiment for burgers and sandwiches.
The Nutritional Benefits Of Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is not only delicious but also offers numerous health benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamins C, A, and K, all of which provide incredible benefits to your body. Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, manages high blood pressure, lowers the risk of heart disease, prevents iron deficiency, boosts immunity, and helps protect memory. Vitamin A supports vision and skin health while also boosting immunity. And vitamin K is vital for blood clotting prevention and bone metabolism.
Tomato sauce is also low in calories, with only about 100 calories per cup. Compared to cream-based sauces that contain many times as many calories per cup, tomato sauce is a lean and nutritious option. Pure tomato sauce contains no fat and approximately 20 grams of carbohydrates per cup, making it easy to fit into a low-fat diet and relatively well into a low-carbohydrate plan.
Moreover, tomato-based foods rich in lycopene and other plant compounds may protect against sunburn. Studies show that tomatoes and tomato products may reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers. This fruit is also beneficial for skin health as it may protect against sunburns.
The Ingredients In Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is typically made with a few basic ingredients, including tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil. Some recipes may also include additional seasonings such as basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
Starting with good quality tomatoes is key to making a delicious tomato sauce. Many recipes call for San Marzano tomatoes, which are known for their sweet and rich flavor. Crushing the tomatoes by hand instead of using canned or pre-crushed tomatoes can also add texture and depth of flavor to the sauce.
A soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery cooked in olive oil is often used as the base for tomato sauce. This mixture adds depth of flavor and sweetness to the sauce. Garlic is also a common ingredient, adding a pungent and savory taste.
Seasonings such as basil and oregano can be added to the sauce for additional flavor. Red pepper flakes can be used to add a bit of heat to the sauce.
The USDA Food Groups
The USDA Food Groups are a set of categories that classify foods based on their nutritional makeup. There are five main food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy. These groups are further broken down into subgroups to emphasize foods that are particularly good sources of certain vitamins and minerals.
Tomato sauce falls under the Vegetables and Vegetable Products food group. This group includes all types of vegetables, from leafy greens to starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes. Vegetables are an important source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they are low in calories, making them an excellent choice for maintaining a healthy diet.
The USDA Food Patterns provide recommended amounts of each food group and subgroup at different calorie levels. For example, the recommended daily intake for vegetables is 2-3 cups for adults depending on their age and gender. Tomato sauce can be a convenient way to meet this recommendation, as it can be added to dishes like pasta or soups to increase vegetable intake.
It is important to note that while tomato sauce is a healthy addition to a balanced diet, it is often high in sodium and added sugars. To keep these levels in check, it is recommended to choose tomato sauces with no added sugars or sodium or to make your own tomato sauce at home using fresh tomatoes and herbs.
How To Incorporate Tomato Sauce Into A Healthy Diet
Tomato sauce can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation and paired with the right ingredients. Here are some tips on how to incorporate tomato sauce into a healthy diet:
1. Opt for homemade or low-sugar store-bought tomato sauce: Many store-bought tomato sauces contain added sugar, which can contribute to weight gain and other health issues. Homemade tomato sauce or low-sugar store-bought options are a healthier choice.
2. Use tomato sauce as a base for vegetable-based dishes: Tomato sauce can be used as a base for dishes like ratatouille or vegetable lasagna, which are packed with fiber and nutrients from the vegetables.
3. Pair tomato sauce with whole grain pasta: Whole grain pasta is a healthier alternative to refined pasta and is high in fiber, which can aid in digestion and help you feel fuller for longer.
4. Add lean protein: To make your tomato sauce-based dish more filling and nutritious, add lean protein like grilled chicken or shrimp.
5. Use tomato sauce as a dip for vegetables: Instead of reaching for high-calorie dips like ranch or cheese, use tomato sauce as a dip for raw vegetables like carrots, celery, and bell peppers.
By following these tips, you can enjoy the delicious taste of tomato sauce while also maintaining a healthy diet.
Conclusion: Tomato Sauce As A Versatile And Nutritious Addition To Your Meals
Tomato sauce is not only a healthy addition to your diet, but it is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Whether you are looking to add some flavor to your pasta dishes or want to try something new with your pizza toppings, tomato sauce can be the perfect solution.
In addition to its versatility, tomato sauce is also a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. As we mentioned earlier, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, which can help boost your immune system and promote overall health.
So the next time you are looking for a nutritious and flavorful ingredient to add to your meals, consider reaching for a jar of tomato sauce. With its numerous health benefits and endless possibilities for use, it is sure to become a staple in your kitchen.