Tomatoes are a healthy summer favorite

Tomatoes are chock-full of vitamins that can keep you healthy.

Full of juicy flavor, tomatoes are also very healthy for us. Their bright red color tells us that they are a great source of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our cells from damage. The vitamin A in tomatoes can lower your risk for heart disease as well as certain cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer all while keep your immune system strong. Eating vegetables rich in vitamin A also helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

Another nutrient that is abundant in tomatoes is lycopene. Lycopene also gives some fruits and vegetables their red color. Cooked tomato products have the greatest concentration of lycopene. Including tomato juice and tomato sauce in your cooking increases your intake of lycopene. Products made with cooked tomatoes like ketchup, pasta sauce and salsa are also good sources of lycopene.

Vegetables like tomatoes are naturally low in sodium and fat. Adding tomatoes to your meals can help keep your blood pressure lower. Tomatoes are also a low carbohydrate vegetable, which makes them a healthy choice for people with diabetes.

Tomatoes are best stored at room temperature if they are not fully ripened. Once ripe, store your tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to three days. If your tomatoes won’t be consumed within two or three days, they can be easily preserved by freezing or canning.

Tomatoes are so versatile. Whether put in a salad or cooked, they add color and nutrition to a variety of dishes. Try this healthy tomato recipe from our Extension friends at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

Honey-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound cherry tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1 Tablespoon honey

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 Tablespoon parsley, minced, optional

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cut tomatoes in half and place in baking dish, cut side up. Tomatoes should fit together tightly.

3. Peel and mince the garlic. Place garlic, honey, and olive oil in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

4. Spoon mixture over tomatoes. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tomatoes are bubbly.

Eaten raw or cooked in recipes like the one above, fresh tomatoes can be a delicious and healthy part of your summer meals. For more information about healthy eating, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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