Health Benefits Of Tomatoes


This time of year is the perfect time to enjoy tomatoes. Rich in the antioxidant lycopene, along with vitamins C and A, tomatoes are a PCOS superfood. Here are some easy ways to incorporate tomatoes into your end of summer meals.

Growing up in an Italian household, summer wasn’t complete until the tomatoes were ripe for picking. All season long tomatoes received as much attention as members of the family.

Watering, gardening, and chasing squirrels away was a big part of every day. When it was time to harvest, these home grown tomatoes were used in everything from sauce to pies. My favorite tomato recipe is my father’s tomato salad which incorporates a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables and Mediterranean flavors. I share the recipe below so you too can enjoy this salad in your home. It’s the perfect side dish for summer barbeques and picnics.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Let’s clear up something first: Tomatoes are technically classified as a fruit, not a vegetable. Americans eat between 22- 24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year, making it the most popular produce item around. There are over 500 varieties of tomatoes grown in the United States in various shades of red, pink, green, orange, purple and white.

What makes tomatoes so special is that they are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant with potential cardio protective effects.

Lycopene, along with vitamin C and beta carotene, makes tomatoes a PCOS superfood. Just one medium-sized tomato provides over a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, and nearly a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. In addition, tomatoes have a high water content, are rich in fiber, and low in calories.

These are just a few more reasons to enjoy this summer favorite.

Simple Ways to Incorporate Tomatoes into your Diet

  • Saute into an omelet or frittata
  • Add to your favorite sandwich, burger, or salad
  • Add to summer or winter soups
  • Top a few slices onto pizza
  • Use fresh tomatoes to make a simple marinara sauce
  • Make homemade salsa
  • Enjoy as a salad with other summer fresh veggies, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar

Tips For Picking the Best Tomatoes

  • Choose tomatoes with a firm and shiny flesh that yields slightly to gentle pressure.
  • For the freshest tomatoes, look for vine-ripened ones or those marked “locally grown.”
  • Store tomatoes at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
  • Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator.
  • Enjoy tomatoes within four or five days of picking or purchasing.

Nonno’s Tomato Salad

A summer favorite in our Italian household, this tomato salad is a classic Mediterranean side dish. Recipe from The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Beat PCOS.

Serves 4


  • 2 cups thinly sliced tomatoes (about 2 medium beefsteak tomatoes)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • ¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


  • Place tomatoes in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add onion, green pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Mix well and enjoy.
  • Tip: Add some fresh mozzarella to make this salad a light meal.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

140 calories, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 14 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1 g protein, 92 mg sodium

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