Regardless of your stance on whether they’re a fruit or vegetable, we can all get behind tomatoes.
They’re a versatile piece of produce that make themselves at home in just about any meal – breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Who doesn’t look forward to that sweet and juicy burst of flavor when you take another bite?
Health Factor: Redder Is Better
In addition to giving tomatoes their trademark red color, the lycopene content in tomatoes is one of the most beneficial antioxidants. Eating lycopene-rich foods has been proven to promote heart health and reduce risk for certain cancers.
Generally speaking, the redder your tomato, the more lycopene it has. Processed tomato products such as ketchup, salsas, and sauces do retain that lycopene content as well – though it’s best to get these nutrients from a whole, fresh tomato.
Studies show tomatoes to be such a heart-smart food because they may help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, inflammation, while reducing risk for blood clots. Tomatoes also boast a dense nutrient profile which includes potassium, folate, and vitamins C and K.
Tomatoes have a fresh flavor profile accompanied by a juicy sweetness that allows them to adapt to a number of different dishes you may have on your table. If you’re worried about getting the most out of ripe tomatoes, making homemade sauces and salsas is a great option, as most can be stored in the freezer and then reheated for later use.
If you’re savoring the taste of summer, tomatoes can be enjoyed atop a bed of greens for a salad, or roasted as a simple side dish for whatever’s coming off the grill.
A fan favorite, caprese salad, is elevated by fresh tomatoes combined with basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. This can be enjoyed as is, as a topping for bruschetta, or perhaps even as a flatbread pizza, which can easily be cooked on the grill.
Peak Season: Late Summer
Tomatoes tend to make the most of the warm weather, with a peak season that begins in July and lasts well into the fall, when frost comes.
As one of the most popular garden vegetables, many people have realized you can usually taste the difference between a fresh tomato and a commercially-grown one. Additives used to artificially ripen store-bought tomatoes can often explain why they sometimes have little to no taste.
Produce that is grown and harvested locally typically means maximum nutrient value, so enjoy those local tomatoes while you can! There’s plenty of farmers market faves to take advantage of throughout Western New York. Click here to find one near you.