Late summer and early fall are the seasons of sweet, fresh, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes. Though many are available year-round in United States, the best come during those late summer months. Tomatoes are actually fruits, but are usually lumped in with the vegetables, due to their slightly bitter, acidic taste. Once cooked, those qualities are tempered by their sweetness; hence, their use in a wide variety of recipes across a wide variety of cultures.

Tomatoes are red because of the carotenoid pigment called lycopene. Studies show that lycopene is important for its antioxidant properties and bone health. There’s been some evidence that removal of lycopene foods in menopausal women hastens bone loss.

Beyond choosing the type of tomato to eat for flavor, it might be a great idea to choose them based on antioxidant capacity. Researchers find that certain growth methods enhance antioxidant capacity and health benefits.

Heart health too, is linked to fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes have been shown to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides. In addition, they help mitigate the aggregation of platelet cells in the blood, which helps reduce the risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.

The many health benefits of tomato intake, which include antioxidant support, improved heart health, and bone health, also include improved prostate support and certain anti-cancer benefits. This is no surprise, due to the fact that foods providing strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support are usually those that show the best cancer prevention properties.

It’s important to note that tomatoes are also an excellent source of a variety of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, manganese, dietary fiber, zinc, iron, biotin, and more.

It’s best to choose tomatoes that are rich in color. Red is good, but so are vibrant oranges, yellows, and purples. If you must buy canned tomatoes, do buy those produced in the United States, because American standards are stricter than those in other countries, and foreign food containers may contain lead.

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