Heart Health

Vegetable of the month: Tomatoes

 Image: © Singkham/Getty Images

Vine-ripened, locally grown tomatoes are abundant in farmers' markets in August. Scientifically speaking, these vivid red (and sometimes yellow, brown, purple, or green) orbs are fruits. But the USDA, which issues the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, includes tomatoes in the red-orange vegetable group. Aim for about five to six cups per week of the foods in this group, which also includes carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes.

When good fresh tomatoes aren't available, canned tomatoes are a good substitute, especially in soups, stews, and pasta sauces. Eating tomatoes and tomato products may help lower cholesterol and improve blood vessel function, according to a 2017 article in Atherosclerosis.

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