Tomatoes are a slice of good nutrition; try some today

Tomatoes are a slice of good nutrition; try some today
August 10
00:03 2017

By Lynne Mitchell

Although tomatoes are botanically classified as a fruit, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1893 determined that tomatoes are to be considered a vegetable.  This decision allowed the Port Authority of New York to collect a 10 percent vegetable import tax, which would not have happened if tomatoes were considered a fruit! 

Any way you slice it, tomatoes are highly nutritious, low in calories and great to include in a healthy diet.  Tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, vitamin K, potassium, and folate.  Tomatoes are packed with a variety of phytochemicals including lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene.  Phytochemicals are beneficial compounds found only in plants that help our bodies fight disease and keep us healthy. 

Tomatoes are versatile – they can be eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack.  You can eat them raw, cooked, stewed, baked, broiled or in stews, sauces and soups. Tomatoes come in many sizes, shapes, and colors.  Whether you dip a grape tomato in hummus as a snack, have a side of sliced tomatoes or have pasta with tomato sauce – you will benefit from the nutrients found in tomatoes. 

At breakfast, enjoy a side of sliced tomatoes or pico de gallo with eggs, add sliced tomato to cheese toast for tomato-cheese toast, or make a frittata more colorful by adding tomato slices.  A frittata is an omelet that you finish cooking in the oven under the broiler using an oven safe pan. 

For lunch, enjoy a hot or cold tomato-based soup or a salad loaded with cherry or grape tomatoes.  They not only add a pop of color but will boost the nutritional value.  If soup and salad doesn’t strike your fancy, you can’t go wrong by adding a couple of thick slices of tomato to a sandwich.  Or, have a tomato sandwich on whole wheat bread!  I like my tomato sandwich with fresh slices of cucumber and avocado – yummy!

For a light dinner, try gazpacho with a crusty whole-grain bread.  Gazpacho is a tomato-based soup that is served cold and can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes.  There are plenty of gazpacho recipes on the internet, in magazines and in cookbooks for you to choose from.  If you want to make the gazpacho more complex and filling, top your bowl with steamed shrimp or cubed avocado.   If a heartier dinner is what you are hungry for, try whole wheat pasta with a tomato-based sauce, salad and fresh fruit for dessert. 

The best tasting tomatoes are those that come fresh off the vine.  You can grow your own or buy tomatoes at a local farm stand or farmers market.  Most farmers pick their tomatoes within 24 hours of going to market.  When shopping at a grocery store, ask the produce clerk where the tomato was grown.  Many grocery stores feature locally grown foods like tomatoes because of customer demand. 

The season for fresh off the vine tomatoes is not too long!  So, get your fill of them now.  Remember, they not only taste great and are versatile – they are good for you.   Enjoy some today!

Lynne M. Mitchell MS, RD, LDN is Community Nutritionist with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health ( You can reach her at 336-703-3216 (direct line).

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