Preparing Tomatoes

5 Lessons Research Teaches us about Preparing Tomatoes

Preparing Tomatoes is a common occurrence, and they are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and carotenoids, such as lycopene. Many studies have shown their benefits for cardiovascular health, and current studies are investigating their benefit for the prevention of cancers, depression and other health issues.

Scientific studies have also shown several factors that can increase the health benefits of the nutrients in this versatile fruit.

1. Ripe is Best in Preparing Tomatoes

While I enjoy some Green Tomato Chow Chow and Green Tomato Bread with the end of the season green tomatoes, ripe tomatoes have more polyphenols, including carotenoids, vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (source and source). But, letting the fruit remain on the vine too long can increase alkalinity and “sweetness”.

For best flavor and nutrition, let tomatoes ripen on the vine. If your tomatoes are not fully ripe, you can put them in a paper bag on the counter with a ripe banana or apple for a few days.

2. Cooking Tomatoes is {Mostly} Beneficial

Is it healthier to eat tomatoes raw or cooked? For the most part, the answer is cooked. Yes, I was a bit surprised too. While cooking will lower vitamin C, beta carotene and lutein, it increases the bioavailability of lycopene and overall antioxidant activity (source and source).

Translation, overall cooking makes tomatoes better at disease fighting. But an excellent raw Pico de Gallo is still a flavorful dose of vitamin C and other nutrients.

3. There’s Power in the Peel

Tomato peel contains plenty of lycopene and beta carotene and should be included whenever possible (source).

If your recipe calls for peeling the tomatoes, such as for making a marinara sauce, this trick takes a bit more time but still enables you to add the peel without unpleasant texture. Slice the tomato in half, grate the flesh off of the peel using a box grater. Then dehydrate the peels in a low-temperature oven and pulverize them in a food processor to add back to the sauce or another recipe.

4. Preparing Tomatoes with Olive Oil

When preparing tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, the bioavailability of lycopene and polyphenols are increased, meaning your body is better able to use these nutrients for optimal health. And this effect works for both raw or cooked tomatoes.

5. Top 10 on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen

The bad news is tomatoes regularly appear on the Environmental Working Group’s list of produce most contaminated with pesticides. If you are worried about pesticides in your food, organic is the only way to enjoy tomatoes.

Unless you have an allergy to tomatoes they should regularly be added to your diet in a variety of recipes. Organic vine-ripened tomatoes, like those locally grown and delivered from Harvest2U, contain the most nutrients with no harmful pesticide residue.

Other Great Recipes and Resources

Always use organic fruits and vegetables in these recipes.

Do you live in one of these Southern California Cities? Aguanga, Fallbrook, Hemet, Homeland, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar, or Winchester.  If you do, you can use the local organic fruits and vegetables in our harvest boxes for these recipes. 

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