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Authors

  1. Reimers, Kristin J. PhD, RD
  2. Keast, Debra R. PhD

Abstract

Not many vegetables rank as a "favorite" among Americans, but tomatoes can fit that description. Consumption of tomatoes in the United States is second only to potatoes. Because of their nutrient density and widespread consumption, tomatoes were highlighted in the 2010 US Department of Agriculture Food Pattern's red and orange vegetable subgroup, with the goal of making vegetable intake more achievable. Whether tomatoes can make vegetable intake more achievable has not been shown empirically, but examination of tomato consumption in the What We Eat in America diet survey can help describe the forms and recipes reported by those who consume the most tomatoes and show whether higher tomato intake is related to higher vegetable intake. The objectives of this report are to (1) describe the tomato forms (tomato products or raw) consumed by US adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey What We Eat in America survey (2005-2010) and (2) describe the relationship between tomato intake and the US Department of Agriculture Food Pattern/MyPlate recommendations. The results showed that most tomatoes were consumed as tomato products and that heavy tomato consumers ate a greater share of tomatoes as tomato products (68%) than did typical tomato consumers (57%). The primary recipe that contributed to tomato consumption was pasta with sauce, accounting for 21% of total tomato intake by heavy consumers. Heavy tomato consumers achieved a mean total vegetable intake of 2.47 cups per day, approximating the 2.5 cup equivalent MyPlate vegetable target amount at the 2000 kcal level. These findings can inform strategies of dietitians, educators, and consumers in the ongoing challenge to increase vegetable intake among Americans.