Fresh tomatoes off the vine are one of the most anticipated flavors of summer—and they’re in season! The nutrients they provide remind us that tomatoes are loaded with health benefits.
The wide variety available, and the versatility of tomatoes means that this veggie (actually, it’s a fruit!) is a fantastic choice to feature in your regular, balanced diet.
Here’s the short list of some of the most important nutrients you’ll find in tomatoes:
- Lots of fiber (good for digestive health)
- Vitamin A (good for skin and eyes)
- Vitamin C (to resist infections)
- Vitamin K (for health of blood and bones)
- B Vitamins (boosts energy)
- Potassium (replenishing electrolytes and controlling heart rate and blood pressure)
- Lycopene (the phytonutrient that may help fight cancer and Alzheimer’s disease)
You’ll also find vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper in your tomatoes…but no fat or cholesterol!
Side note: While it’s not true of most vitamins or minerals, lycopene is one nutrient that actually increases after cooking and processing tomatoes. If you purchase canned tomato products, you might want to look for “BPA-free” labels. Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in canned foods like tomato paste and tomato sauce when it leaches in from can linings. Some experts fear it can be harmful if it travels into the body.
Another simple way to get in your share of tomatoes each week is to grill them. This easy recipe lets you grill up a bunch while they are in season, and store for weeks in the refrigerator or freeze for months at a time. And the lycopene increases!
Grilled Tomatoes with Garlic Oil
- 4 ripe red tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tomatoes in half and season with salt and pepper while you heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook one minute until golden, then turn off heat and pour garlic oil into small dish to hold. Stir oregano and thyme into oil.
Set the grill up for high heat. Cook tomatoes cut side down for about 3 minutes. Flip them over and brush the tops with the garlic oil mixture, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.
Remove from grill and top with parmesan. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature and store in a glass jar in refrigerator for several weeks.
You can also freeze the grilled tomatoes—leave the cheese off, and store in air-tight freezer dish. When defrosting, they will be the consistency of stewed tomatoes, ready to reheat or make sauce with.