Seasonal Superstar: The Tomato

Whether you call it a fruit or a vegetable, tomatoes are a super-food to incorporate in our diets. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin A which plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin and good vision. They are also a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant and iron absorption booster, as well as potassium which may help lower your blood pressure as part of a healthy diet. In addition to these nutrients, tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a phytonutrient and red carotenoid pigment that gives vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, watermelons and grapefruit their bright red and pink color. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that may protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. These vitamins and phytonutrients are what make tomatoes super-foods.

Need to know about tomatoes:

– Select tomatoes with bright shinny skin and firm flesh

– Store them at room temperature for optimal taste

– Use ripe tomatoes within a week

– Eat tomatoes with healthy oils such as olive oil to increase vitamin A absorption

Tips to eat more tomatoes:

– Prepare a homemade salsa with fresh tomatoes and enjoy with baked chips

– Slice or wedge tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper for a tasty snack

– Prepare a refreshing gazpacho

The next time you are strolling through the farmers market or picking up groceries, pick up some tomatoes. At local markets you will find succulent tomatoes of all colors, shapes and sizes.

~Ivy Mumo, Registered Dietician, Georgetown University

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