Spotlight on Tomatoes

Summer is rapidly approaching here in Texas. Last weekend we rocked the ridiculous temps over 100, and closer to 110 with the heat index.

It was so sweltering it almost took your breath away.

With the arrival of summer there are some fruits and veggies that seem to just be a part of the season.

Tomatoes top that list.

Is there anything better than a warm, vine ripened tomato sliced with some salt and pepper? I could eat more than my share 😁

So as a nod to delicious summer food I thought the tomato would be a good one for our food spotlight post.

The 411

The tomato is from the nightshade family native to South America.

Despite botanically being a fruit, it’s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable.

Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.

Some nutrition facts

The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbs and fiber.

Here are the nutrients in a small raw tomato:

  • Calories: 18
  • Water: 95%
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

Carbs comprise 4% of raw tomatoes, which amounts to fewer than 5 grams of carbs for a medium one.

Simple sugars,such as glucose and fructose, make up almost 70% of the carb content.

Other plant compounds

The main plant compounds in tomatoes are:

  • Lycopene. A red pigment and antioxidant, lycopene has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.
  • Beta carotene. An antioxidant that often gives foods a yellow or orange hue, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body.
  • Naringenin. Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to to decrease inflammation protect against various diseases in mice.
  • Chlorogenic acid. A powerful antioxidant compound, chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.

Studies show that tomatoes and tomato products may reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers. This fruit is also beneficial for skin health, as it may protect against sunburns.

So now that we’ve discussed how good they are for you….

How about a few recipes? Tomatoes by themselves are perfect. I also love tossing them in some olive oil and roasting with asparagus.

Cherry tomatoes are also good in my veggie scramble for breakfast.

As mentioned earlier, they also make perfect light dishes when the days get long and warm.

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By the way….I made the rustic Italian cucumber and tomato salad for dinner last night…it is definitely a keeper.

Tell me, do you have any favorite tomato recipes?

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