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67 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT, 05701
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(802) 417-1528

Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) promotes local food knowledge, production and market opportunities for farmers and community members throughout our region.

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Ode to the Tomato: Lycopene

Jill

TomatoesOne of the joys of eating tomatoes, simply and in as many was as possible, is that they're really good for you.  Tomatoes have a minuscule amount of fat (less than a quarter of a gram per tomato) and have very few calories (only 22 calories in a medium tomato), but they do contain several extremely important nutrients.

Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C.  One tomato will have between 19 and 23 mg of vitamin C, which is between 30 and 40 percent of the USDA daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA).  Vitamin C is a powerful antioxident (Health guru Andrew Weil recommends intake of vitamin C as the most potent way to fight cancer), and essential for may of the body's functions.  Common wisdom and some medical studies suggest that vitamin C is also important in boosting the immune system, though there is conflicting evidence regarding the vitamin's ability to actually increase cells comprising the immune system.

Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium, with a medium-sized tomato containing approximately 355 mg, or 10 percent of your RDA.  Potassium has been found to be an important nutrient in chronic disease prevention.

AND Tomatoes are a great source of the very popular (deservedly so) phytonutrient lycopene. The brilliant red or pinkish color you find at the bottom of your tomato is the source of this powerful antioxidant.  Here's what Livestrong.com has to say about lycopene:

The carotenoid lycopene functions as an antioxidant in the body, and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. Lycopene in foods imparts a bright pink or red color, so foods containing it will typically have vibrant pigmentation. For the body to properly absorb lycopene, fat must be present, so consuming fat along with foods containing this carotenoid can increase its bioavailability. Cutting or crushing foods containing lycopene is another way to increase its bioavailability.

The body needs fat in order to absorb lycopene?  What a brilliant reason to drizzle olive oil on your Gazpacho or Tomato, Mozarella Salad with Barley.

Easy Everyday Chef recommendation:  Eat tomatoes.  Raw.  Cooked.  Enjoy flavor and health.