Some pronounce it tomAYto, and some say tomOto, some believe it’s a fruit, while others argue that it’s a vegetable. But all must agree that tomatoes are a tasty superfood, chock full of nutrients that provide many health benefits for the human body. Here I will highlight

5 health benefits of tomatoes along with delicious nutrient packed recipes

Chock full of vitamins

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First and foremost, tomatoes contain a significant amount of vitamins A, C, K, and folate. In fact, one medium tomato provides about 40% of the recommended daily vitamin C requirement. This powerful vitamin aids the body in its antioxidant efforts by preventing free radicals from causing damage on the body.

Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant as well, that specifically supports vision quality and prevents possible damage to the eyes due to free radicals. Vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting, and folic acid plays an important role in cell growth and regeneration making it especially beneficial for pregnant women.

Overflowing with minerals

Tomatoes also boast a wealth of minerals including potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and copper. And of course, it is always comforting to hear that one whole medium tomato only contains 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.

Reduces risk of heart disease

Consuming tomatoes can help reduce your risk of heart disease. One study found that women who consumed 7-10 tomato products per week had a 29 percent reduction in their risk of developing heart disease as opposed to women who ate less than a serving of tomatoes per week.

Interestingly, those who ate tomatoes and tomato products with some oil displayed even more notably positive results. This can be explained by the fact that lycopene dissolves in fat, meaning that it will be best absorbed by the body when accompanied by a little bit of oil.

Researchers are still working to identify several phytonutrients contained in tomatoes that benefit heart health, but so far it has been proven that tomatoes help to lower total cholesterol, LDL levels and triglycerides. This is one reason why increased tomato intake has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Aids in digestive, skin, teeth and bone health

Tomatoes are rich in dietary fiber. The large amount of fiber in tomatoes accounts for their beneficial quality of aiding in digestive health as well as reducing and/or preventing symptoms of diarrhea and constipation.

Tomatoes have also been known to improve skin, teeth, and bone health. Interestingly, it has been shown that one of the natural ways to cure a sunburn is through topically application of tomato juice to the affected area.

Pumped up with powerful lycopene

In more recent years, tomatoes garnered the reputation for containing lycopene, the potent antioxidant that gives them their distinct red hue. Similar to other antioxidants, lycopene hinders the activities of the destructive substances that form from the stressors of the body called free radicals.

Lycopene binds to these free radicals preventing them from causing cell damage that could result in diseases including cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that lycopene consumption specifically aids in the prevention of prostate, breast and colon cancers.

Many people are not aware that to obtain all the valuable effects of lycopene, it is best to consume tomatoes after they are cooked. Heat breaks down cell walls, helping to release the lycopene and enhance absorption in the body. For this reason, the recipes provided are ones that require cooking or roasting, however, tomatoes can of course be enjoyed raw.

Tomatoes are used in many dishes including salads, sandwiches, pastas, poultry, fish and soups. They are an especially significant part of the American diet, which makes it even harder to believe that until the mid-1800s, the early American settlers considered them to be poisonous fruits!

So have your tomatoes and eat them too. And enjoy the perfectly balanced flavors of acidity and slight sweetness while providing your body with the many nutrients and antioxidants that they contain!

tomatoes health benefits2

Image by Stefania Pomponi Butler

Homemade marinara sauce

Yield: 4 cups
Ingredients:
1 large onion, diced
1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2- 28 oz. cans Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
15 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Instructions:
1. Heat oil in pot. Add onions and sauté until golden.
2. Add minced garlic on medium heat until fragrant about 1-2 minutes.
3. Raise the heat to high and add in tomato sauce, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
5. Add in basil and adjust seasonings as needed to taste. Stir over flame for one more minute.
6. Use immediately or allow to cool before freezing in smaller containers.

Creamy Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

Yield 4 servings
Serving size: ¾ cup
Ingredients
12 plum tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 heads garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion
1 tsp. tomato paste
½ cup vegetable stock or water
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 Bay leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
2 tablespoons plain fat free Greek Yogurt
Chopped basil, for garnish
Cashews, for garnish

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Core tomatoes and slice in half. Arrange cut side up on a baking sheet. Spray liberally with olive oil non-stick spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Cut off the top of the two garlic heads and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil.
4. Put tomatoes and wrapped garlic on baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
5. Turn over tomatoes and spray again with pam. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Put back in the oven (along with garlic) for another 30 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, slice the onion and sauté in a pot until golden brown. Add in the tomato paste and cook with onions for another 1-2 minutes.
8. After the tomatoes and garlic finish roasting, squeeze out the garlic cloves from their peel. They should come out easily.
9. Put roasted tomatoes, with all their roasting juices, and the roasted garlic in the pot with the onions.
10. Add vegetable stock or water, brown sugar, oregano, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
11. Bring to a boil and cook on a medium low flame for 25 minutes.
12. Chop the fresh basil and add to soup. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
13. Remove Bay leaves.
14. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.
15. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped basil, cashews or pine nuts.

Also check out this Gluten free tomato sauce

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