Eat for Your Health: Benefits of Tomatoes

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Try late summer tomatoes in a fresh, refreshing soup.

A ripe tomato is food marvel for its health benefits alone. It’s their redness we have to thank, or more specifically, lycopene, the pigment that gives fruits like tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit their color. Lycopene is in the family of pigments called cartenoids (another famous carotenoid: the beta-carotene that makes carrots orange), which work as antioxidants to protect the body from the free radicals that degrade your organ tissues. Lycopene is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the cartenoid family and it’s especially abundant in tomatoes. Thing is, the human body cannot make carotenoids, so eating them is your only way to reap their benefits.  

This season plunder your garden or farmers market for some fresh, rosy red tomatoes and blend them into a batch of gazpacho. The chilled soup originated with the Andalucían people on the sweltering southern coast of Spain—they created gazpacho as a refreshing supper you can sip. You’ll be pleased with how quickly you can make a batch with just a sharp kitchen knife and a blender. We think you’ll love the bright, tangy flavor and the sunny orange-red color that gives gazpacho its healthy punch.

Homemade Gazpacho

  • 6 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 piece of French bread, soaked in a bit of water
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place tomatoes, cucumber, yellow pepper, red pepper, onion and garlic in a blender and add French bread after squeezing out excess water (the bread gives the soup its body). Add tomato juice. Blend briefly or until soup is a thick purée. Pour mixture into a pitcher; add vinegar, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper and stir well. Chill and serve in mugs or glasses for sipping.


Shape Up North is a community collaboration dedicated to helping northern Michigan residents benefit from healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. Living a healthier lifestyle can and should be an enjoyable adventure. Small changes in habits at school, work, and home can have long-lasting, positive effects on your health. With an abundance of great local foods and a four-season playground right outside your door, you and your family can lead a healthy, fit, and fun life.