4 Benefits of Eating Fresh, Ripe Tomatoes This Summer

Emily Duerr, RDN

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Summer is here, and with it comes an abundance of delicious, fresh seasonal produce. Now is the perfect time to enjoy grilled corn on the cob, colorful fruit salads and vegetables grown in your backyard garden – such as tomatoes.

One of our favorite seasonal vegetables – yes, we said vegetable! – is tomatoes. The controversial question of whether tomatoes are a fruit or a vegetable has a different answer depending on who you ask. Botanically speaking, tomato is a fruit; but from a dietitian’s perspective, the nutrient profile of tomatoes is closer to vegetables (typically 25 calories per serving) rather than fruit (60 calories per serving). The Supreme Court has even had a say in the matter!

Tomato Benefits Represented by Overhead View of Whole and Sliced Tomatoes on Wooden Cutting Board | Vitacost.com/blog

Besides being downright delicious, there are some hefty health reasons to love this summer vegetable. Here are four tomato benefits to consider.

Noteworthy tomato benefits

1. They are packed with nutrients.

Not only are tomatoes a tasty addition to any meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner), they are also a nutrition powerhouse. While naturally low in calories, fat and salt (be sure to choose no added salt options when using canned tomatoes), they also deliver beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C and potassium.

Additionally, tomatoes contain lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene which are carotenoids that give tomatoes their characteristic coloring and function as antioxidants.

Because of their nutrient composition, tomatoes may have a beneficial role in diabetes, heart disease, cancer prevention, and even eye and skin health.

2. Tomatoes come in many varieties

Cherry and grape tomatoes are a smaller, sweeter bite-sized option that make for a great salad topping or even a quick grab-and-go snack. When roasting, canning or creating a sauce, opt for a lower water content option such as Roma, San Marzano or Amish Paste. Cocktail tomatoes are a great choice when making stuffed tomatoes. However, you might be most familiar with the large, juicy beefsteak tomatoes that are great to use in salsa, on a sandwich or in caprese salad.

Tomatoes also come in many different colors – from red and green to purple or yellow.  Different colors of tomatoes have different flavors and levels of nutrients, so be sure to try a wide variety!

3. They are low maintenance.

Tomatoes are a very low-maintenance kitchen staple. After you purchase bright, firm tomatoes at the store, keep them unwashed at room temperature out of direct light (up to 1 week after ripening). Don’t store whole tomatoes in the fridge as this can alter the taste. However, once tomatoes are cut, they should be refrigerated in an airtight container. Before preparing, always be sure to wash your tomatoes under cool, running water.

4. Tomatoes are versatile.

There are many different ways to use tomatoes. You can throw them on top of your salad or sandwich or even eat them raw.  If you’re looking for a flavor-packed side dish, try making caprese salad, grilled tomatoes, or oven-roasted tomatoes . You could even try your hand at homemade salsa, pasta sauce or tomato soup!

Looking for more nutrition tips? Sign up today to meet with a Kroger Health registered dietitian!