(As published on TheTownDish.com)
What's better than a freshly picked tomato just off the vine? Summer weather brings perfectly ripe, red, juicy tomatoes, and if you grow them in your garden, soon you'll have more than you know what to do with.
In preparation for this influx, we're sharing the health benefits of the tasty tomato. Tomatoes fill you up, protect your skin and are downright delicious -- what's not to love? Read on for some surprising facts and ideas to work them into your daily meals.
Fill Up for Your Health
Tomatoes are filled with fiber and water -- two things that help keep you full. One serving of tomatoes (2 oz. or the size of a medium plum tomato) will leave you with 7% of your daily recommended amount of fiber. Tomatoes help balance your blood sugar, too, keeping your hunger under control. They're low in sodium and calories, so it's good to stock up on these red treasures.
Did you know that tomatoes are also packed with vitamins? One serving will provide you with vitamins A, C and K as well as folate and potassium. Potassium helps organs like your heart and kidneys work properly -- a good thing, don't you think?
If tomatoes aren't your favorite, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in general helps protect you against high cholesterol and high blood -- in turn, protecting you from heart disease and strokes.
Ever feel prettier after eating a tomato? Probably not -- but you should! The beta-carotene helps protect your skin against sun damage, something we can all relate to come summertime. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, making skin less sensitive to the sun's rays. This means less fine lines and wrinkles for us tomato eaters. Lycopene has lots of health benefits -- look for our next post to learn all about it.
Your hair benefits, too, from the vitamin A, which makes your hair shiny and strong. Vitamin A also improves your vision. Research suggests that a diet containing tomatoes may reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye condition that can lead to loss of vision.
Tomatoes are one food you probably don't eat plain, but they're versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. As a snack or as a sandwich filler, tomatoes can be enjoyed with lots of different flavors.
And did you know that tomatoes store best at room temperature? Forget the fridge for these ripe reds. Here are some ideas to get your tomato fix:
- Make your own salsa for a festive fix.
- Start a homemade soup with stewed tomatoes as the base.
- Top thick slices with basil, feta and Greek dressing to serve as an appetizer.
- Add them to your next omelet with some spinach and mushrooms to top it off.
- Use cherry tomatoes to stretch your salad.
- Switch out creamy sauces for your pasta dishes and used tomato-based choices.
Besides being delicious additions to your summer meals, tomatoes can reduce chronic pain because of the presence of bioflavonoids and carotenoids (a.k.a. things that reduce inflammation). Dig in to the fruits (or vegetables?) of the season and enjoy knowing you're doing a good thing for your health.