With our Tomato Basil Supper just around the corner, we thought it was fitting to place one of our favourite seasonal fruits in the spotlight! Tomatoes are also a specialty crop for Danielle. She started her garden here at the farm 11 years ago with a variety of heirloom tomatoes and each year expands upon the crop saving seeds from the years before. Danielle oven roasts and preserves her tomatoes so that she is able to use them all year long in soups, sauces and casseroles.
As summer nears its end we take solace in the arrival of tomato season! Unsurprisingly, Tomatoes tote a variety of nutritional benefits, though listing them all would require an exceptionally large character count. Instead, we will dive into a couple of fun facts about Tomatoes and will leave the entirety of boast worthy accolades to the medical journals.
First on the docket, lycopene! Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives many tomatoes their vibrant red colour ( Szalay, 2016). Peer reviewed research suggests that lycopene helps to ward of various cancers and even plays a role in cardiovascular disease prevention (Sesso, Liu, Gaziano, & Buring, 2003). In addition to this super carotenoid, tomatoes also boast an all star roster of vitamins and minerals including but not limited to:
Vitamin A: Vision booster- Vitamin A is necessary for healthy eye development and retinal health (Oregon State, 2017).
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Heart & Skin Health- Studies show that there is a correlation between vitamin C consumption and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (Kobylecki, Afzai, & Smith, n.d). Vitamin C is also necessary for collagen production, which keeps your skin looking youthful and aids in healing (Oregon State, 2017).
B2 (Riboflavin): Macronutrient Metabolism- B2 plays an important role in the production of energy. B vitamins help the body process fats and protein and are necessary for a healthy nervous system in addition to healthy livers, skin, hair and eyes (University of Maryland Medical Centre, n.d).
Folate: Folic Acid intake is not only essential for pregnant women but also for warding off depression by averting compounds, like homocysteine, that interfere with the production of feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine - these hormones are notorious for regulating mood, sleep and appetite (Medical News Today, n.d).
We could go on and on here… high in fibre, potassium, biotin, vitamin E etc. however, we feel like you get the just of the situation. Bottom line, tomatoes are super foods that pack a powerful nutritional punch!
Now, given that Tomato harvesting is upon us we thought it would be helpful to include some tips from the Farmer's Almanac to ensure that you are getting the most from your crop! Click here to read the full article, below are some bullets that we found particularly helpful:
Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. If any fall off before they appear ripe, place them in a paper bag with the stem up and store them in a cool, dark place.
Never place tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen; they may rot before they are ripe!
The perfect tomato for picking will be firm and very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft.
If your tomato plant still has fruit when the first hard frost threatens, pull up the entire plant and hang it upside down in the basement or garage. Pick tomatoes as they redden.
Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Doing so spoils the flavor and texture that make up that garden tomato taste.
To freeze, core fresh unblemished tomatoes and place them whole in freezer bags or containers. Seal, label, and freeze. The skins will slip off when they defrost.
Now that you are equipped with a highlight reel of nutritional benefits and best ‘picking’ practices go forth and seize the season, October will be here before you know it!
Kobylecki, C. J., Afzal, S., & Smith, A. G. (n.d.). Camilla J Kobylecki. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/05/06/ajcn.114.104497
Sesso, H. D., Liu,S., Gaziano, J. M., and Buring, J.E. (2003, July 01). Howard D. Sesso. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/7/2336.long
Szalay, J. (2016, April 30). Tomatoes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/54615-tomato-nutrition.html
Tomatoes: Health Benefits, Facts, Research. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273031.php
Vitamin A. (2017, May 05). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-A#function
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b2-riboflavin
Vitamin C and Skin Health. (2017, May 23). Retrieved August 21, 2017, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C