Tomatoes – A Functional Food Worth Preserving

The days are getting noticeably shorter and the evenings cooler; summer is slowly winding down.  But for anyone who planted a vegetable garden this year, the summer’s harvest is going strong and you may be wondering what to do with all the tomatoes!

Tomatoes are sometimes referred to as a functional food, one that goes beyond providing basic nutrition to supply other health benefits.  Thanks to the phytochemical lycopene, tomatoes can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  They are an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants and are also rich in potassium, fiber and folic acid which may help protect against chronic illness.

Tomatoes are also rich in lutein and beta-carotene which can reduce risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.  Vitamin C is also good for the skin; college synthesis relies on vitamin C and it is also a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent damage from sunlight, pollution and smoke from causing wrinkles and sagging skin.

Be it a fruit or a vegetable, home grown tomatoes taste so much better than store-bought and with a little effort can be enjoyed year-round. A simple way to preserve the summer flavor is to dust off the crock pot and turn this season surplus into sauce to carry you through the winter.

Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce

10 roma (plum) tomatoes – peeled/seeded and crushed
1/2 small onion chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cut olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp died basil
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 pinch cinnamon

Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and simmer for 10 to 15 hours on low.  The longer the better!  Separate sauce into freezer bags for easy fall and winter meal starters.


If you take beta-blocker medication which may increase potassium levels in the blood or suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, you should talk with your doctor about consuming tomatoes regularly.