Summer’s bounty

Tomatoes are delicious—and nutritious

Veggie gardens across Chico are starting to burst with yummy tomato goodness—from big fat juicy beefsteak tomatoes and long red Romas, to green zebras and other pretty striped tomatoes, to little cherry, pear and grape tomatoes in yellow, orange and red.

There’s nothing quite like a fresh tomato straight out the garden to please the palate of just about anyone except the most ardent tomato hater. But in addition to their great taste, tomatoes offer a number of health benefits, making it a no-brainer to justify gorging oneself on them.

Among the benefits listed at are:

• Tomatoes contain lycopene and other carotenoids, antioxidant compounds known to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene also may help prevent other forms of cancer, such as that of the brain, breast, cervix, colon and mouth, as well as prevent age-related macular degeneration and heart disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

• Tomatoes are rich in potassium, which plays a role in nerve function, muscle control and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

• Tomatoes contain the “high-powered,” health-maintaining antioxidants beta- carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

• Consumption of tomatoes is associated with cardiovascular benefits such as a reduced risk of death from heart disease.