The new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend most Americans consume 2.5 cups of vegetables a day, a goal almost 9 out of 10 Americans are not meeting. But research coming out of the Illinois Institute of Technology and presented at the 2016 Experimental Biology Conference April 2-6 in San Diego, Calif., shows that canned tomatoes may be a good gateway vegetable to help people meet these veggie goals.

The study, which looked at 21 adults' vegetable consumption, found that participants who were encouraged to add either one cup of Hunt's tomatoes or one cup of raw vegetables to their diets both increased their total vegetable intake during the study. When eating canned tomatoes, participants increased their intake to 2.28 cups, just shy of the recommended 2.5 cups a day. When adding raw vegetables, they increased it to 2.58 cups. The amounts were not statistically different from each other, but were significantly higher than starting intakes.

"It's not news that people struggle to eat adequate vegetables," says Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, Illinois Institute of Technology. "This research showed that fresh isn't the only way to meet vegetable requirements. In fact, encouraging vegetable consumption from convenient sources like canned tomatoes, tomato sauces, tomato paste and puree can help people more easily include vegetables in their diets."