Tomatoes are one of those somewhat polarizing foods that people tend to either love or hate. The flavor and texture of tomatoes really appeals to some of us and turns others off. But no matter which category you fall into, it’s impossible to deny that tomatoes are an incredibly healthy part of the human diet.
One of the best things about tomatoes is that they are packed with lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant and phytonutrient. Lycopene has been linked to promoting cardiovascular health, along with being beneficial to the prostate and cervix. In addition to tomatoes, lycopene occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables with a red color, such as watermelon and red peppers.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which promotes heart health, and vitamin K, which helps the body maintain strong bones. The vitamin A in tomatoes may also keep your hair and skin healthy.
Here are some easy and healthy ways to get more of the beneficial properties of tomatoes in your daily diet.
Many people don’t think about eating tomatoes for breakfast, but this is an ideal time to sneak them into your day. Chop up some fresh tomatoes and add them to omelets or scrambled eggs in the morning. If you’re in a rush, you can also simply top a piece of toast with a slice of tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and some basil.
Tomatoes are also great for appetizers, which are a fun way to get creative in the kitchen. One delicious appetizer is capers salad that uses fresh tomato slices with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. No matter what you put in your salad, tomatoes can easily be incorporated into pretty much any recipe. Instead of picking up store-bought salsa at the grocery store, consider making your own with chopped tomatoes, onions, corn, and cilantro. Skip the tortilla chips and dip sliced vegetables into your salsa instead.
Main Dish Ideas
Since tomatoes are so versatile, they’re easy to add to your favorite main dishes for both lunch and dinner. When making Asian stir fry dishes, toss in some chopped tomatoes. Or warm up on a cold winter’s day with some tomato soup or a tomato-based chili.
In your favorite Italian pasta dishes, you can use fresh tomatoes to create your own marinara sauce. Not only will this eliminate preservatives and meat by-products contained in commercial sauces, but you’ll also get the health benefits of pure and natural tomatoes. Homemade pizza, curries, and casseroles are also great dishes to add tomatoes to.
Of course, tomatoes aren’t just for eating – they’re for drinking too. A glass of pure tomato juice or V8 can easily be added to your morning routine. Just choose a low-sodium variety of tomato juice to avoid unwanted salt in your diet.
If you simply can’t stand to eat fresh tomatoes, then consider taking lycopene supplements to get the health benefits they possess with none of the taste.
Each capsule contains the equivalent of one whole tomato – 15 milligrams of lycopene, plus beta-carotene, phytoesterols and all the other nutrients found in whole tomatoes. Just take 1-2 capsules per day, or as directed by your doctor.