Food Innovation Center

Collaborating for a healthier, hunger-free world.

All About Tomatoes: Boosting Your Health with Buckeye Wellness

The juicy sweetness of a red ripened tomato is irresistible! Besides being delicious, the tomato is an incredible source of fiber and nutrients, is low in calories, and has cancer-preventing powers. The amazing tomato is also inexpensive and can be used in numerous ways. The Food Innovation Center is delighted to provide tomato seed packets as part of the Buckeye Wellness Kit that Ohio State President Gordon Gee and Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk are distributing throughout the state.

Did You Know?...

Check out these EIGHT amazing facts about tomatoes!

    1. Tomatoes are full of lycopene, a carotenoid that gives certain fruits and vegetables their distinctive colors. Carotenoids are antioxidants that protect cells from damage; research suggests they can have numerous health benefits.

    2. Increased consumption of lycopene is thought to be associated with lower rates of several cancers including colon, rectal, prostate, and breast. Ohio State researchers seeking to understand how foods prevent cancer have discovered that consuming tomatoes or tomato products are more beneficial than lycopene alone (learn more in the "Bumper Crop" article below). 

    3. Based on the Aztec name "xitomatl,"or "plump thing with a navel," the tomato is said to come from Peru.

    4. Botanically the tomato is a fruit since fruits are generally defined as the edible part of a plant containing the seeds, while a vegetable is the edible stems, leaves, or plant roots. To keep things interesting, legally and nutritionally the tomato is considered a vegetable. Read more about the juicy Supreme Court case that determined tomatoes' vegetable status back in 1893.

    5. Tomatoes come in all sorts of colors besides red including yellow, pink, purple, black, and white.

    6. In 1790, Catherine the Great's very own chef, Francesco Leonardi, introduced spaghetti with tomato sauce for the first time (Bloxham, 2010).

    7. Every year in Buñol, Spain, thousands of people gather for a massive tomato food fight at the festival La Tomatina.

    8. An international consortium of scientists recently sequenced the genome of the tomato. Learn more about the significance of this accomplishment.


Tomatoes 101: The Basics


Info provided by OARDC


To get the most of that nutritional lycopene when buying tomatoes, choose ones that are a deep, rich red color. Don't forget that eating processed tomatoes better absorps lycopene into the bloodstream and tissue, so eat both raw and processed tomatoes!

Keep an eye out for tomatoes that feel firm. They should have a heatlhy shine and have a plump shape. Don't choose ones that have bruising, cracks, or other damages.

 If your tomatoes aren't fully ripened, then store keep them at room temperature (70° F) and without direct sunlight; tomatoes continue ripening after being picked off the vine. Be sure to keep them stem-end up; Tomatoes are fragile and bruise easily.

Learn more in the "Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden" fact sheet on the right.


Cooking with Tomatoes

Watch OSU Extension food specialist, Barbara Brown, as she shows you how to make an authentic Italian tomato sauce.

More Tomato Recipes:

5 Healthy Tomato Recipes for Summertime

10 Quick Recipes With Fresh Tomatoes 



 Ohio State Tomato Discoveries

Turning up the Heat on Tomatoes Boosts Absorption of Lycopene

Unique Tomatoes Tops in Disease-fighting Antioxidants

Playing With Your Food, The Food Innovation Center at Ohio State is Developing Nutrition Combinations to Improve Health Here and Around the Globe 



 For more Buckeye Wellness information: Visit the Buckeye Wellness Tips page for evidence-based wellness recommendations from University Chief Wellness Officer and Dean of the College of Nursing Bernadette Melnyk, in partnership with Your Plan for Health.