Celtic Frost Herb Farm
Five health benefits of heirloom tomatoes
You might be inclined to keep your distance from those gnarly looking tomatoes with the quirky names showing up more often in grocery stores and at farmers’ markets, but as a nutritionist I implore you to give heirloom tomatoes a try Heirloom tomatoes are loaded with health benefits that can, among many other things, reduce stress and strengthen your bones. And don’t be afraid of the heirloom’s odd shapes and diverse colors as these are the result of their rich genetic biodiversity. In short, they are supposed to have lines, bumps and wild color variation, and as long as the skin has not split, you are in for a treat.
Heirloom tomato seeds, like your grandmother’s china, are viewed as precious family treasures that have been passed from generation to generation. For an heirloom tomato to qualify for heirloom status it has to have been around for at least 50 years. Newer genetic variations are classified as hybrids.
Heirlooms are picked at the peak of ripeness, which gives them greater vitamin content. The rainbow of colors indicate their diversity of antioxidants, which help protect our cells from aging. A good heirloom tomato is botanically a fruit and can have the juiciness and sweetness of a cherry or a grape.
All of that is a sharp contrast to most hybrid supermarket tomatoes, many of which are picked green so they can survive thousands of miles in a truck and are then sprayed with CO2 so they blush red. As well, the skin of these tomatoes is bred to be thick and the flesh sturdy so they won’t bruise easily, but all of these so-called ‘improvements’ create a compromise. In the end, they lack both the flavor and nutrients that are created through the natural ripening process.
Five health reasons to add heirloom tomatoes to your diet
1. Heirloom tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps nourish the adrenal glands and reduces stress. One medium heirloom provides 40 percent of your daily requirement of this immune-building nutrient.
2. Tomatoes protect cardiovascular health. They are rich in potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure as well as folate, which has been shown to help with a lower incidence of heart attacks.
3. Organically grown tomatoes tend to be higher in lycopene, a kind of carotenoid that plays a role in the prevention of cancer. Studies show that lycopene is protective against bladder, breast, cervical, colorectal, endometrial, lung, pancreatic, prostate, and skin cancers.
4. Heirloom tomatoes are a good source of vitamin K necessary for healthy, strong bones. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, suggests that if you consume vitamin K early and consistently, it can help prevent osteoporosis
5. Heirloom tomatoes add tremendous flavor to your cooking yet are low in calories. With only 27 calories per cup, you can enjoy a sun-ripened tomato as a snack, just like an apple! Garnish your next soup or dip with chopped heirloom tomato for an extra zip.