Health benefits of tomatoes, plus a recipe to satisfy your pizza craving
We won’t start a debate over whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables. We’ll just be diplomatic like Arkansas, which dubbed the tomato the state fruit and vegetable. What is indisputable, however, is that those little red guys are packed with health benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans eat about 24 pounds of tomatoes a year — though much of that consumption comes from ketchup and sauces.
Here’s a pitch for why you should make tomatoes a regular part of your diet, plus a roasted tomato recipe that will help satiate your pizza cravings (without packing on the pounds).
Health benefits of tomatoes:
- Saving face: Yes, tomatoes are low in calories and fat and are a good source of Vitamin C. But, the Beta carotene in tomatoes also helps shield your skin from sun damage. Plus, the lycopene — the bright red carotene in tomatoes — makes skin less susceptible to UV sun damage, which causes wrinkles and sun spots.
- Stronger bones: Calcium gets all the attention for building strong bones. But, the Vitamin K in tomatoes, coupled with the calcium content, helps build stronger bones. The lycopene is also known to improve bone mass.
- Cancer prevention: The almighty lycopene can reduce the risk of cancers. Scientific studies have shown that people with diets rich in tomatoes have lower risk of cancer. Lycopene is most strongly linked to protecting against lung, stomach and prostate cancer. But, it may also help ward off cervix, breast, mouth, pancreas, esophagus, colon and rectum cancers.
- Prevent strokes: A 2011 study showed those with diets high in lycopene had fewer strokes than those who had fewer traces of the antioxidant in their blood.
- Shiny hair: Now, we’re not saying you should go using ketchup as a shampoo, but the Vitamin A in tomatoes translates to strong and shiny hair.
Recipe for roasted Parmesan “pizza” tomatoes:
6 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon parsley
pinch of sea salt
Directions: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Toss tomatoes in 1 teaspoon of oil and line them on the baking sheet with the cut side facing up. Sprinkle with salt. In a small bowl, combine garlic, oregano, breadcrumbs, cheese, pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil. Spoon the mixture over the tomatoes. Bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving.
Want to grow your own tomatoes? Get started with a tomato success kit from Gardener’s Supply Company.
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