Mid-summer means tomatoes are coming into full harvest. Tomatoes offer an abundance of health benefits and nutritional value. The pigment in tomatoes that gives them their bright red color is called lycopene. As a powerful antioxidant, lycopene eliminates free radicals that can damage cells in the body. The consumption of tomatoes has shown to reduce the incidence of cancers including breast, lung, endometrial, prostate, colon, and stomach cancers.
Tomatoes also contain:
* large amounts of vitamin C (40 % of the daily value – DV)
* vitamin A (15 % DV)
* potassium (8 % DV)
* 7 % of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron for women and 10 % RDA for men.
Choose tomatoes that are ripe with rich shades of red, thus providing higher amounts of betacarotene and lycopene. Eating tomatoes raw are benefical in receiving nutritional value, but cooking them releases even more of the benefits. Lycopene becomes more accessible after cooking and consuming tomatoes with olive oil increases the absorption of lycopene.
Marinated Tomato Salad
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
*2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil (or substitute 1 tbsp of the oil with flax seed oil)
*2 tbsp (30 ml) balsamic vinegar or red wine
*1 tbsp (15 ml) tomato paste
*1 tsp of ground black pepper
*1/2 tsp of sea salt
*5 large tomatoes – cut in thick slices or quarters
*1/4 cup of fresh cut basil leaves
*1 red onion –thinly sliced
*1 medium cucumber – sliced or diced
1. In a bowl, mix the vinegar, the oil, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
2. Add tomatoes, basil, onion and cucumber and mix with dressing.
**can be eaten immediately or can be left to marinate
**for non-vegans, you can add 1/4 cup of feta or mozzarella cheese