Once dubbed “love apples” by the French, tomatoes are actually fruits. Like the potato and eggplant, the tomato is a member of the nightshade family. However, unlike those vegetables, this fruit grows flower and contains the seeds of the plant that it develops from.

Confusion has set in because the government dubbed tomatoes a “vegetable” for trade purposes a long time ago. In addition,  they may be called vegetables because they are used in typically used in savory, rather than sweet cooking.

Regardless, the tomato offers dozens of varieties ranging widely in size, shape and color, all which bring a nutritional punch.

Nutritional Benefits

  • The deep red and orange color of tomatoes is due to rich concentration of an antioxidant called lycopene, helping to keep our hearts healthy and protect us from cancer.
  • Tomatoes actually contain similar amounts of potassium to bananas.
  • In terms of conventional antioxidants, tomatoes provide an excellent amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene; a very good amount of the mineral manganese; and a good amount of vitamin E.

Best Ways to Use

  • Make your own tomato paste,
  • Tomatoes are a great addition to bean and vegetable soups.
  • Enjoy a classic Italian salad—sliced onions, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.
  • Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers for an easy-to-make salsa dip.
  • Puree tomatoes and other veggies to make the refreshing cold soup, gazpacho.
  • Add tomato slices to sandwiches and salads.