What are the Best Substitutes for Tomato in Your Diet?
In this brief article, we will address the query “What are the Best Substitutes for Tomato in Your Diet?” Additionally, you will explore the nutritional profile of tomato and its substitutes, as well as the potential health benefits associated with their nutrients.
What are the Best Substitutes for Tomato in Your Diet?
There is no food that exactly matches the flavor and texture of tomatoes, but there are some options that can slightly mimic these tomatoes’ properties. Bell pepper, squash, carrots, and mushrooms (1,2,3).
These foods are good substitutes for different reasons. For example, if you select red bell peppers you can mimic the red color in your foods. This vegetable is slightly acidic and sweet, and it turns soft after cooking, so it is ideal for raw salads and for sauces (1,3).
Squash and carrots turn soft after cooking, making them good choices to prepare sauces or soups. Even though these vegetables lack an acidic taste, you can add some vinegar to enhance the acidic flavor (1,3).
Mushrooms are very different from tomatoes, especially in their appearance, however, tomatoes’ flavor is also formed by umami. Umami is one of the basic tastes, and its definition is “tasty”. Mushrooms are rich in umami, which can improve the flavor of the before mentioned tomatoes’ substitutes (2).
Furthermore, you can mix them together to increase the taste, aroma, and flavor! There is scientific evidence ensuring that combining vegetables can create new sensory properties like texture, color, aroma, taste, and thus, they could be more acceptable (3).
Why Considering Tomato Substitutes?
There are some possible reasons why you need to substitute tomato in your diet, for example (4,5):
- Hypersensitivity (similar to an allergic reaction) due to the high content of histamine. Hypersensitivity reactions can cause eczema, skin rash, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
- You are on a low-potassium diet, commonly indicated for people with kidney disease.
- Maybe you just don’t like tomatoes, or you don’t have tomatoes at home.
What are the Nutritional Profiles of Tomato and its Potential Substitutes?
The nutritional profile of tomato and its potential substitutes are summarized in the following table (data is expressed in grams per 100 g of cooked vegetable) (6-10):
|Tomato (cooked)||Bell pepper (raw)*||Squash (cooked)||Carrot (cooked)||Mushrooms (cooked)|
|Proteins||0.95 g||0.9 g||1.21 g||0.76 g||1.56 g|
|Fats||0.11 g||0.13 g||0.32 g||0.18 g||0.22 g|
|Carbohydrates||4.01 g||6.65 g||3.11g||8.22 g||14.4 g|
|Fiber||0.7 g||1.2 g||1 g||3 g||2.1 g|
* USDA FoodData Central does not have cooked red bell pepper data. Adapted from USDA FoodData Central (6-10)
As you can see, protein and fats are very similar between them. Mushrooms and carrots are the substitutes with higher amounts of carbs, but they are also rich in fiber.
Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate essential for your gastrointestinal health. When the fiber reaches your gut, it is fermented by your microbiota, producing short chain fatty acids (helpful to prevent colon cancer) (11).
Furthermore, fiber helps to induce your intestine’s mobility, which is beneficial for you because it prevents constipation (11).
What are the Potential Health Benefits of Tomato’s Substitutes?
Beyond the macronutrient composition and fiber content, tomatoes’ substitutes like bell pepper, squash, carrots, and mushrooms are rich in antioxidants. In the following list, you will find the most common and their potential health benefits (12,13,14):
- Carotenoids: carotenoids are precursors of vitamin A, they have a potent antioxidant capacity which can protect you from diseases like cancer. Vitamin A and carotenoids are also associated with good eye and skin health (especially protecting against UV light).
- Polyphenols: polyphenols are very powerful antioxidants, they have the potential to prevent diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. The health benefits of polyphenols are attributed to their capacity to reduce inflammation and counter oxygen reactive species in your body.
- B-vitamins: this vast group of vitamins has a special role in your metabolism. B-vitamins can facilitate many metabolic processes such as macronutrient utilization and cognitive development. They are essential for correct growth and development.
How to Prepare Alternatives for Tomato-Based Foods?
We are going to focus on sauces, because it is the most common way to prepare tomato-based foods, like pasta.
There are a lot of sauces without tomatoes that you can try for pasta or meat. In this link, you will see a lot of sauces, some of them actually have tomatoes, but you can skip them or replace the tomato from the recipe with the suggestions of this article.
In this brief article, we addressed the query “What are the Best Substitutes for Tomato in Your Diet?” Additionally, you explored the nutritional profile of tomato and its substitutes, as well as the potential health benefits associated with their nutrients.
- Tommonaro G, Morelli CF, Rabuffetti M, Nicolaus B, De Prisco R, Iodice C, et al. Determination of flavor-potentiating compounds in different Italian tomato varieties. J Food Biochem, 2021;45(5):e13736.
- Sun L-B, Zhang Z-Y, Xin G, Sun B-X, Bao X-J, Wei Y-Y, et al. Advances in umami taste and aroma of edible mushrooms. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2020;96:176–87.
- van Stokkom VL, de Graaf C, Wang S, van Kooten O, Stieger M. Combinations of vegetables can be more accepted than individual vegetables. Food Qual Prefer, 2019;72:147–58.
- Tsiasioti A, Tzanavaras PD. Simple and reliable determination of the histamine content of selected Greek vegetables and related products in the frame of “low histamine diet”. Foods, 2022;11(20):3234.
- Ali MY, Sina AAI, Khandker SS, Neesa L, Tanvir EM, Kabir A, et al. Nutritional composition and bioactive compounds in tomatoes and their impact on human health and disease: A review. Foods, 2020;10(1):45.
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- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 8 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2258590/nutrients
- Snauwaert E, Paglialonga F, Vande Walle J, Wan M, Desloovere A, Polderman N, et al. The benefits of dietary fiber: the gastrointestinal tract and beyond. Pediatr Nephrol, 2022.
- Eggersdorfer M, Wyss A. Carotenoids in human nutrition and health. Arch Biochem Biophys,. 2018;652:18–26.
- Godswill AG, Somtochukwu IV, Ikechukwu AO, Kate EC. Health benefits of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and their associated deficiency diseases: A systematic review. International Journal of Food Sciences, 2020;3(1):1–32.
- Rasouli H, Farzaei MH, Khodarahmi R. Polyphenols and their benefits: A review. Int J Food Prop, 2017;1–42.