Sun dried tomatoes have most of their moisture removed through a days-long drying process. This makes their skin thicker, which helps to stop bacteria and microorganisms from spoiling the fruit. The drying also slows down the natural enzymes that make fruit turn mushy.
Besides extending their shelf-life, sun-drying tomatoes also concentrates their flavor, making them even more delicious.
Sun dried tomatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They have a particularly high concentration of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
There has been a lot of interest in lycopene’s potential benefits as an antioxidant. Some early research shows it may help protect your skin from the sun. Other studies show that lycopene may lower the risk of certain cancers, including esophageal and pancreatic cancer. More research is needed to better understand these potential benefits.
When it comes to getting the biggest lycopene bang for your buck, the best option is sun dried tomatoes. This is due to bioavailability. Bioavailability is the amount of a substance that can enter your circulation and have an active effect. Sun dried tomatoes have a higher bioavailability of lycopene than fresh or canned tomatoes.
Some other health benefits of sun dried tomatoes include:
Immune System Support
Sun dried tomatoes are packed with Vitamin C. While Vitamin C isn’t a cure for the common cold, there is good evidence that it may help prevent serious complications caused by colds. This includes complications caused by pneumonia and lung infections.
Vitamin C has also been shown to be good for people whose immune systems have been weakened due to stress. Your vitamin C levels can drop quickly in times of stress, especially for individuals who smoke, drink heavily, or are obese. Taking in enough to replace what’s been lost is important for staying healthy.
Just 100 grams of sun dried tomatoes has more than 40% of your daily recommended intake of dietary fiber. While both soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water) fiber is present in sun dried tomatoes, the majority is insoluble. This makes sun dried tomatoes a good choice for helping with constipation.
Sun dried tomatoes are also a good source of:
Nutrients per serving
Every 100 grams of sun dried tomatoes contains approximately:
- Calories: 258
- Protein: 14 grams
- Fat: 3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 56 grams
- Fiber: 12 grams
- Sugar: 38 grams
It's important to remember that the nutrients in sun dried tomatoes are concentrated by the drying process. This means there are more calories and more sugar per gram in sun dried tomatoes than there are in fresh tomatoes. Many store-bought sun dried tomatoes are also treated with salt prior to drying, giving them a higher sodium content.
Keeping your intake to 100 grams or less per day will prevent you from taking in too much sugar and salt, while keeping your calorie intake low as well.
How to Use Sun Dried Tomatoes
One of the best things about sun dried tomatoes is how many foods they pair well with. Pasta, sandwiches, dips/spreads, and pizza all benefit immensely from their chewy, slightly sweet, and tangy qualities.
Many recipes recommend rehydrating sun dried tomatoes prior to cooking. Sun dried tomatoes can be rehydrated by simply letting them sit in warm water for roughly two hours in a covered dish. If you’re in a time crunch, you can instead douse them in boiling water, then let them sit in that water for about 5 minutes.
Here are a few easy ideas for cooking with sun dried tomatoes:
- On a pizza, paired with basil and thyme
- Blended with cheese, garlic, and pumpkin seeds to create a vegetable dip
- Simmered in vegetable broth with olives to make a delicious pasta sauce