Tomatoes are by far the number one vegetable, er um, fruit, grown in the home vegetable garden. Depending on which survey you have read, tomatoes outnumber its closest competitor by more than 3 to 1, which are cucumbers in one survey I read and peppers in another.
Who can argue adding them to your garden? They are easy to grow from seed, can be started indoors, and there are a wide variety of choices. With plenty of sun, fertile soil and regular waterings, you can have fresh home grown tomatoes all summer long (in most parts of the world).
There are a number of health contributions that adding home grown tomatoes to your diet can attribute to. For example, I recently had a chance to speak with board certified dermatologist and UCLA clinical professor, Dr. Tanya Kormeili.
“I like tomatoes because they are rich in lycopene- which helps reduce the number of free radicals. Free radicals cause aging, wrinkles and contribute to the DNA damage,” says Dr. Kormeili. “Additionally, they contain minerals, water, fiber and are a good source of vitamins A, B, C and E, which are important in skin health and also free radical protection.”
While Dr. Kormeili is a staunch supporter of adding home grown tomatoes to your diet for all the positives, she highly discourages the use of using tomatoes in a form of a topical face mask. She says doing this can cause sensitivity and rash, and that tomatoes should always be consumed and not applied.
So how should homegrown tomatoes be prepared in the kitchen? For this information I turned to Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of the book “Cook Your Way Through the S.A.T.”.
“Many vegetables lose their health potency if cooked, but not tomatoes,” Says Charis. “More carotenoids and flavonoids (also anti-inflammatory and fight allergies) are absorbed from cooked tomatoes than from raw tomatoes because cooking breaks them down and makes them more available to digestion.”
Here are some interesting points that Charis makes:
1. Cook tomatoes in olive oil to improve lycopene absorption. “Think bruschetta”, says Charis and if you need a recipe be sure to check Charis’ website at www.SATgourmet.com
2. Homegrown, especially organic, tomatoes have more nutrients, according to Charis, than conventional sit on the shelf varieties.
3. Tomatoes are low in calories. A perfect addition to any healthy eating plan.
4. Tomatoes are considered acidic which is undesirable, but it’s their acidic quality that helps fight urinary tract infections.
With all that tomatoes have to offer for your health, wouldn’t it make sense to grow at least grow a few plants at home? I believe so.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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