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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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To Heir is Human

I took this photo at my favorite local market. I love how imperfect and earthy these tomatoes look. And this particular bunch shares a common theme – they’re all heirloom tomatoes. That means these fabulous fruits (yes indeedie, tomatoes are fruits) grew from seeds that have produced the exact same variety of tomato for years and years (talk about a track record). In most cases, seeds are considered heirloom if they’ve been passed down at least three generations, but some can be traced back hundreds of years. Most tomato connoisseurs believe heirlooms are far tastier than your typical garden variety (tee-hee), and many heirlooms are also certified organic (that’s good for mama – Mother Earth that is).

Whichever way you slice them, tomatoes are darn good for you (I bet you’re not shocked, huh?). They’re a terrific source of vitamin C and vitamin A and a good source of lots of other vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, potassium, and dietary fiber. And the star phyochemical (a.k.a. body guard) in tomatoes (lycopene) is practically a household term these days. This disease fighter has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate, colon, breast, lung, and pancreatic cancers, as well as heart disease.

My top tomato eating picks include: skewering and grilling grape tomatoes (after misting with basil infused oil); piling freshly sliced tomatoes and crisp Romaine between 2 slices of toasted cracked wheat bread garnished with spicy brown mustard; and topping just about anything with chunky salsa made from diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice - mmmmmm.

Did you know?
-There are over a thousand varieties of tomatoes including many shapes, sizes, and colors
-Tomatoes can be red, yellow, orange, green, or brown
-Tomatoes are native to South America (not Italy)
-Storing tomatoes in the fridge diminishes their flavor
-To absorb that lovely lycopene, you’ll need to pair tomatoes with a healthy fat source such as avocado, olive oil, or chopped nuts
-If you prefer cooked tomatoes, your taste buds may lean toward sweet vs. savory (cooking tomatoes brings out their sweetness)
-John Denver recorded a song called Home Grown Tomatoes that includes the lyrics, “…Only two things that money can’t buy. That's true love and home grown tomatoes…”
-The film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) is now a cult classic
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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