Functional Foods at Farmers Markets - Week Thirteen

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Tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum)

Another fruit classified as a vegetable because that's how we use and market it. 

The tomato originates in South America and is part of the nightshade family.

The family tree includes eggplant and red pepper. This is why some uninformed groups were afraid to eat tomatoes until sometime in the 1900’s.  

WOW! the USDA estimates there are approximately 25,000 varieties of tomatoes.

Tomatoes can be found in shades of red, green, orange, yellow, pink, purple, almost black, with stripes, with streaks and new colors are popping up all of the time.

In my garden, I grow the yellow cherry tomatoes because they are less acidic than the red and, they have a really sweet flavor.

My sweet little granddaughter loves to pick them and pop them right into her mouth, yummy!

No matter what color or variety your favorite tomato is, any one of them provides you with a plethora of health benefits via phytonutrients, flavonoids, acids, fiber and more.

Here’s why including tomatoes in your daily eating, is a great habit any day of the year.  


Lycopene – a strong antioxidant that’s better absorbed once heated and when eaten with a little healthy fat.


Lowers the risk of stroke

Lowers the risk of osteoporosis

Promotes heart health by lowering the oxidation rate of fats in the cells and blood, decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Lowers risk for prostate, non-small cell lung, pancreatic, and breast cancers.

Beta-carotene - a strong phytonutrient-antioxidant that converts into vitamin A


Keeps the eye’s retina and cornea healthy

Maintains healthy skin

Supports the reproductive system

Facilitates growth

Lutein and Zeaxanthin - antioxidants within the eye

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Protect the eyes by fighting off cataracts and macular degeneration.

to get the most lycopene and beta-carotene As possible, Always eat the skins!


Naringenin – shown to decrease oxidative stress within the body thereby offering protection from heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, inflammation, high cholesterol, and memory loss.

Chalconaringenin, Rutin, Kaempferol, and Quercetin – all promote heart health by providing protection from disease and antioxidant activity

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Hydroxycinnamic Acids

Caffeic, Ferulic, & Coumaric – protect against inflammation, protect DNA from being damaged, and act as antioxidants.


Esculeoside A – shown to lower LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Fatty Acid Derivative

9-Oxo-Octadecadienoic Acid – found to enhance the way the liver metabolizes fats, which can help the body maintain a healthier cholesterol panel.


Excellent Source Of:

Vitamin C – 33% DRI

Biotin – 24% DRI

Molybdenum – 20% DRI (involved in amino acid breakdown)

Vitamin K – 16% DRI


Good Source Of:

Copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, phosphorus, chromium, pantothenic acid, protein, choline, zinc and iron

Assorted Tomato Juices - Fancy

Assorted Tomato Juices - Fancy

Focaccia Bread

Focaccia Bread

Gratin Tomatoes

Gratin Tomatoes

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

As you can see from the pictures above and the resources below, tomatoes can be eaten fresh, cooked, frozen, candied, canned, fried, stewed, broiled, dried, pickled and more.

We find them in preserves, jam, juice, casseroles, sauce, salsa, and so much more. 

I challenge you to try a new recipe or even canning some this season. No matter how you slice it, you can't go wrong with a tomato. Enjoy!



Chicago Botanic Garden – Tomatoes:

Food Network – Herb Stuffed Tomatoes:

Food and Nutrition Magazine -  French Bread Pizza with Herbed Ricotta, Spinach and Tomatoes:  andWatermelon-Tomato Gazpacho:  and Tomato Poached Swordfish:

Green City Market – Gazpacho:

Healthy Delicious – Summer Tomato Jam:

National Center for Home Food Preservation – How Do I? Can Tomatoes:

Serious Eats – Roasted-Tomato Salsa:

Super Healthy Kids – Tomato-Avocado Cup Snacks:

What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl: Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Parmesan:  and Tomato N’ Cheese Pasta:

USDA – SNAP-Ed Connection – Tomato Resources and Information: