Tomato Paste and Etcetera : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Tomatoes, Lycopene, Acid/Alkaline Balance, Health and Survival

(Tomato Paste as Super Veggie Food for all Seasons/Reasons)

I have "discovered" tomato paste as a uniquely advantageous supplementary survival food, as a solution to several Y2K-related (or other long-term survival-related) food problems, and as a general contributor to health.


Many "survival" and Y2K prep writers have spoken of the need for vegetables in the diet, as a source of vitamins, and for variety and general dietary balance. Actually, vegetables are a rather mediocre source of the known vitamins relative to supplements; you are better off with pure powders and oils (ascorbic acid, vitamin E oil, etc., plus yeast for B-complex). That is just the KNOWN VITAMINS, however, which are not necessarily the most important factors. Whole vegetables contain a plethora of newly-discovered (and surely many yet-to-be-discovered) protective factors that fall under the general heading of "phytochemicals". Many phytochemicals are antioxidants with activity that reaches and often exceeds that of the "conventional" vitamin and mineral antioxidants (C, E, selenium). Every week, new scientific publications report the discovery of novel phytochemicals (there are thousands of them) and document their antioxidant and health-protective activity. There is excellent reason to abide granny's admonitions to "eat your veggetables" -- but it has little to do with the vitamins and other classic nutrients. It has to do with this vast and exciting new field of phytochemicals.


One of these phytochemicals is a brilliant red carotene-like pigment called lycopene. Lycopene has proved to be a very fine antioxidant, better than beta-carotene -- the more common orange pigment found in most green and yellow vegetables. In addition to antioxidant activity, there is a strong negative correlation of lycopene intake with certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer. Lycopene appears to be one of the best of the phytochemicals for health protection; it is found almost exclusively in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon. Since the latter are generally scarce and seasonal, tomato products emerge as by far the least expensive and easiest way to get lycopene.


As for the idea of a need for vegetables and fruits for "general dietary balance", the principal chemical advantage of these foods (apart from the phytochemicals) is that they leave an alkaline "ash" in the body, which is to say that they contain a predominance of the alkaline-forming elements (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium) over the acid-forming ones (sulfur, chlorine, phosphorus). Most other foods, and particularly most "survival" foods -- grains, beans, meat, flour products, etc. -- have a predominance of acid-forming elements. The significance of this is that if one consumes mostly acid-forming foods, this excess acid places a stress on the kidneys, and must be neutralized with bodily reserves of alkali. By far the largest alkali reserve is the skeleton -- rich in the alkaline elements calcium and magnesium. The next largest alkali reserve is the soft lean tissues of the body (muscles, organs), rich in the critical amino acid glutamine, which yields alkali. The bones, muscles and organs can be forced to surrender alkaline elements to neutralize the residue of an acid-ash diet, but obviously one would not wish to chronically rob one's own healthy tissues of their structural elements. And there is a rapidly growing body of scientific information suggesting that an acid-heavy diet takes a toll on lean tissues over a period of years, leading to bone density loss (osteoporosis), wasting of muscles and organs and, ultimately, losses of strength and functional capacity.


Back to tomatoes. Tomatoes are very alkaline, and concentrated tomato products are extremely alkaline. A canned or dried form of tomato is best for long-term storage for Y2K or other "survival" purposes. Tomato juice or V-8, tomato sauce, pasta sauces, etc. are all serviceable. Dried tomatoes are concentrated and would work well, provided they have a very low moisture content. But tomato PASTE has these unique advantages:

1. Density. Takes up much less space than juices, or spaghetti sauce, marinara, catsup, etc. (more details on this below). A 24-unit case of the little 6-oz cans is easily a month's supply or more; takes up perhaps 1/10 the space of the tomato equivalent as whole juice. Each little can supplies 50% of RDI of both vitamin A and C, which tend to be lacking in diets without much fresh food (you should get plenty of those nutrients from supplements, but it is nice to get some from natural foods, too).

2. Economy. I buy the little 6-oz cans at a discount grocery (Aldi, in MI) for .29 each. These provide a tomato base, when reconstituted as I describe below, at about half the cost of whole/constituted products (juice, sauce); or it can be used straight. It provides easily the most bang for the buck of any tomato product.

3. Low sodium, high potassium. Canned food is notoriously high in sodium. But not tomato paste: no salt added, generally (read label), and very high in potassium -- an important fresh-veggie alkaline element (details above) that may be lacking in many "survival" rations. Also, the potassium helps balance out the excess sodium from other canned goods, if you are relying on them.

4. Lycopene. As mentioned above, tomato products are one of the few foods that supply high lycopene, and certainly the only commonly and continuously available food that does so. Lycopene is cool stuff, very desirable. And interestingly enough, lycopene is MORE absorbable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes! This is probably due to the mechanical treatment, which breaks up the cellulose fibers so that the lycopene is more available for absorption. You could get the same effect by chewing fresh tomatoes very intensely... but who will actually do that?

5. Alkaline ash. Tomatoes leave an alkaline ash in the body, and tomato paste is like an alkali concentrate. I have not run the numbers, but I would imagine that one little 6-ounce can, representing several large tomatoes, would balance out 2-3 meals worth of (acid-ash) pork 'n beans, beef stew, grain, etc., etc. In other words, one little can would supply roughly a one day vegetable ration, in a survival situation.

6. Fiber. Each six ounce can supplies about five grams of fiber -- a substantial contribution to the daily intake. Fiber has numerous health benefits; I will not detail them here. Related observation: I've noticed that high intake of tomato paste (more than one can in a day) has a mild laxative effect. This may have something to do with the fiber, but it is almost surely more than that, since 5 grams of fiber never have that much effect on me. Anyhow, the laxative effect could be an advantage if you tend to be constipated, and/or if you are eating a lot of low-fiber "survival" foods such as MREs, or a lot of flesh, eggs, dairy and starch.

7. Palatability. I've found that tomato paste makes a nice tangy addition to many other foods. After using it for a time now, I actually prefer it to the prepared tomato sauces which are loaded with sugar, salt and other junk.

OK, so now you're convinced, but how to use the stuff? I just dollop it directly onto sardines, tuna, meat, grains, beans, other veggies, whatever. Another option is to mix it 50:50 with mayonaisse for a very tasty, rich spread (about half as caloric as pure mayo). Or, you can reconstitute it with water and other additives so as to make up whatever type of tomato product you prefer -- sauce, "juice", marinara, etc. The basic technique is to put the paste in a jar with water, and shake. Vary the amount of water depending on what kind of finished product you want -- more for tomato "juice", less for a thick spaghetti sauce or catsup. Of course you'll want to add other ingredients to taste: oregano, dried onion and garlic, dried or canned mushrooms, olive oil, sugar, salt, vinegar, tabasco sauce, depending on what kind of finished product you want.

For "survival" applications, long-term storage is not a problem. Modern canning technology produces cans that last for much longer than the printed dating suggests. If you keep cans of tomato paste fairly cool (THE single most important factor in food storage) they should last for at least 2-3 years, and quite possibly 5 years or more. By "last" I mean remain essentially unchanged and indistinguishable from stuff bought a week ago, though perhaps suffering small losses of vitamins.


In fairness, I should note that sprouts have all the advantages I listed (economical, palatable, etc.) except that they have no lycopene. Sprouts are excellent, a great superfood for "survival" or for anytime. And if you leave them in the sun long enough they will develop chlorophyll -- another great protective phytochemical.


Sebastian A, et al. Improved mineral balance and skeletal metabolism in postmenopausal women treated with potassium bicarbonate. N Engl J Med. 1994 Jun 23;330(25):1776-81.

Lemann J Jr, et al. Potassium causes calcium retention in healthy adults. J Nutr. 1993 Sep;123(9):1623-6. Review.

Remer T, et al. Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. J Am Diet Assoc. 1995 Jul;95(7):791-7.

Kraut JA, et al. Bone, acid, and osteoporosis. N Engl J Med. 1994 Jun 23;330(25):1821-2.

Gartner C, et al. Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jul;66(1):116-22.

Sengupta A, et al. The anti-carcinogenic role of lycopene, abundantly present in tomato. Eur J Cancer Prev. 1999 Aug;8(4):325-30.

Giovannucci E. Tomatoes, tomato-based products, lycopene, and cancer: review of the epidemiologic literature. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999 Feb 17;91(4):317-31. Review.


This work was sponsored by the New World Order Tomato Paste Consortium (NWOTPC), strictly in the interest of dissemination of objective scientific facts, and absolutely free from selfish or commercial purpose. NWOTPC: The World is Our Tomato! [tm]

-- alan (, November 29, 1999


Tomato paste also comes in tubes, in case you might want to throw one into a pack.

Here's an old chefs' trick to preserve a bit of leftover tomato paste:

Leave the unused portion in the can. Pour a layer of olive oil over the top of the tomato paste. It seals out the air & helps the paste stay fresher longer.

-- flora (***@__._), November 29, 1999.

Seems I remember reading that tomato sauce could be dehydrated the same way you make fruit leather.

-- Paul D. Law (Dennis) (, November 29, 1999.

Great post, Alan, kinda makes you wonder if those tomato folks are well aware of this. (Seems like once a month the supermarket sells tomato sauce for 6 or 8 or 10 for a dollar but I don't think paste ever goes on sale.)

-- Roger (, November 29, 1999.

Wonderful article and information. Thank you.

-- suzy (, November 29, 1999.

Solid, thoughtful piece of work. Reminds me to get some more tomato paste at Sam's Club.

-- Not Whistlin' Dixie (, November 29, 1999.

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