Drying brings out the natural sweetness in tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes lend robust flavor to a variety of dishes. You can find them in many grocery stores, or you can make them at home, either by drying them in the sun under a cheesecloth or by baking them at low heat in the oven. In addition to their aesthetic benefits, sun-dried tomatoes serve as an excellent source of several nutrients, and they offer a range of health benefits due to their nutritional profile.
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Calories and Macronutrients
Sun-dried tomatoes contain a moderate amount of calories -- 139 calories per cup, or 7 percent of the calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. Each serving contains 30 grams of total carbohydrates, including 6.6 grams of dietary fiber, which is 26 and 17 percent of the recommended daily fiber intakes for women and men, respectively. This fiber boosts digestive health, helping to stave off unpleasant constipation, and helps you feel full. A cup of sun-dried tomatoes also provides 7.6 grams of protein and 1.6 grams of fat.
Sun-dried tomatoes serve as excellent sources of minerals, especially potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps your nerves communicate and regulates your electrolyte balance, while magnesium maintains healthy bone tissue and aids in energy production. A 1-cup serving of sun-dried tomatoes provides 105 milligrams of magnesium -- 33 and 25 percent of the recommended daily intakes for women and men, respectively -- and 1,850 milligrams of potassium, or 39 percent of the recommended daily intake. Consuming sun-dried tomatoes also boosts your intake of iron, manganese, copper and phosphorus.
Add sun-dried tomatoes to your diet as a source of vitamins, especially vitamin K and niacin. Vitamin K helps your body maintain mineralized bone tissue and plays an essential role in blood clot formation, while niacin supports your metabolism and contributes to healthy brain function. Women need 90 micrograms of vitamin K and 14 milligrams of niacin each day, while men need 125 micrograms of vitamin K and 16 milligrams of niacin. A 1-cup serving of sun-dried tomatoes provides 4.9 milligrams of niacin and 23 micrograms of vitamin K. They also contain moderate amounts of other vitamins, including C, A, B-5 and B-9.
Serving Tips and Suggestions
The concentrated flavor of sun-dried tomatoes makes them a welcome addition to sandwiches and wraps. Add them directly to your sandwiches, or blend them with Parmesan cheese and a touch of olive oil to make a sun-dried-tomato spread. Blend sun-dried tomatoes into your pizza sauce for a more-concentrated tomato taste, or puree sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, olive oil and basil for a fresh pasta sauce. If you're feeling more adventurous, marinate sun-dried tomatoes and black olives in a mixture of orange juice and balsamic vinegar for a healthy but flavorful starter.