Tasty, Terrific Tomatoes

benefits of tomatoes

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, good sources of vitamin A and lycopene, and pack a powerful punch of phytochemicals and antioxidants. All around I consider tomatoes a nearly-perfect food, but today I’m going to focus on just one of the amazing health benefits found in this sweet, succulent fruit. (And, yes, scientifically speaking tomatoes are a fruit, although they are often treated as vegetables when cooking.)

Lycopene, the ingredient that makes tomatoes red, is a powerful antioxidant that may be valuable in preventing and slowing the growth of certain types of cancers such as prostate, breast, and digestive-tract. A study from the British Journal of Nutrition (December, 2002) even showed that Lycopene can provide valuable protection against sunburn.

Tomatoes ripened on the vine are higher in lycopene than those that ripen after they are picked. If you can’t grow your own, then try to buy your fruit from a farmer’s market as locally-grown food is more likely to be harvested at the peak of freshness.

I’m a big fan of raw tomatos — with a hint of balsamic vinegar and olive oil or topped with a little feta cheese, or even eaten like an apple!

However, when eating for optimal health, it’s important to note that Lycopene is best absorbed by the body when tomatoes are cooked. Tomato paste and sauces, diced tomatoes thrown in soup or chili — in fact there’s never been a better reason to pile high the bruschetta and serve up a spicy Bloody Mary.

For a triple treat try this simple recipe.

Trifecta Bruschetta

  • 1.5 oz Italian multi-grain or whole wheat bread (2-4 slices)
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes (try to get them NOT packed in oil)
  • 1/4 C diced tomatos
  • 2 T thick tomato pasta sauce
  • 2-4 basil leaves
  1. Toast bread until almost crisp
  2. Thinly slice sun-dried tomatoes and mix with diced tomatos and sauce.
  3. Spoon tomato mixture over toast slices and return to oven. Broil for just a little minute — until warm and bubbly.
  4. Place one basil leaf on each piece of toast and serve immediately.

*Approximately 140 calories.

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