Tomatoes: Myths vs. Facts
By Jackie Shank
As it appears in Jacksonville.com newspaper
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Myth: When fully ripened, all tomatoes are red.
Fact: Although most tomatoes are red, nature provides a plethora of colors, including the varieties called Pink Girl, Lemon Boy and Cherokee Purple. Regardless of their color, most ripe tomatoes provide unusually high amounts of savory glutamic acid, as well as the sharp flavors of citric and malic acids, plus a tad of natural sugars.
Myth: Tomatoes are too watery to provide significant nutrition.
Fact: One large red tomato provides impressive nutrition along with a meager 33 calories. Notable nutrients include 23 milligrams of vitamin C (38 percent of the Daily Value), 431 milligrams of potassium (12 percent of the Daily Value), 2.2 grams of fiber, and 4,683 micrograms of lycopene, a disease-fighting red pigment.
Myth: It’s too rainy to grow tomatoes in Northeast Florida.
Fact: Tomatoes grow quite nicely in our area. They like a lot of sun and consistent, even watering. Beth Ireland, a UNF nutrition student and avid gardener, reports that her tomato varieties thrive. Contact your county agricultural extension agency for growing information.
Myth: Store-bought tomatoes have no flavor.
Fact: Many things affect the flavor of a tomato. One significant factor is degree of ripeness. It’s common for growers to pick green, firm, unripened tomatoes to lessen damage during transport. This practice does affect flavor, since vine-ripened tomatoes continue to accumulate acids, sugar and aroma compounds. Regardless, you can still find flavorful tomatoes.
TOMATO, BLACK BEAN & AVOCADO SALSA
2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1 cup diced peeled avocado
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss gently. Cover and chill 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: about 7 servings, 1/2 cup each.
Note: This delicious salsa is a blend of simple, fresh ingredients. Serve with blue tortilla chips or stuff into a whole grain pita.
Nutrition facts per serving: 86 calories, 4.6 gms total fat (0.8 gm saturated fat), 4.4 gms fiber, 214 mgs sodium, 0 mgs cholesterol, 1.2 mgs iron.
Source: Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2007.
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