There’s a reason why tomatoes are the most popular non-starchy produce in America. Not only are they incredibly good for you, but they’re also a flexible food: You can eat them raw, sliced on top of avocado toast, roasted or grilled in a pan, blended into gazpacho, or simmered down into a delicious homemade marinara sauce.

With the help of Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet, here are some fascinating facts about this powerful piece of produce:

  1. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, biotin, vitamin K, potassium, and lycopene.
  2. Tomatoes grown organically have higher levels of vitamin C than conventionally grown versions, according to a 2013 study.
  3. Because of their high antioxidant capacity, tomatoes can help to strengthen our immune system, protect against cardiovascular disease, and prevent against certain cancers, according to Gans.
  4. Cooking increases the antioxidant content in tomatoes, including boosting the amount of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease, according to a Cornell University study.
  5. Eating a diet rich in tomatoes may help reduce breast cancer risk, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
  6. Guys also reap the benefits: Men who eat over 10 portions a week of tomatoes have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a 2014 study.
  7. Skip tomatoes if you have gout (a painful form of arthritis): Recent research shows that tomatoes may trigger flare ups in some people.
  8. One medium tomato is only 22 calories.
  9. Scientifically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit since they fall under the definition of a fruit: developed from the ovary in the base of a flower and contain the seeds of the plant.
  10. It’s best to store tomatoes on your countertop rather than your fridge, which can make them mealy, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  11. Once you cut a tomato, that’s the time to place it in the fridge, which will slow down the growth of harmful bacteria.
  12. Scientists are working on breeding tomatoes that are richer in antioxidants, taste better, and last longer before spoiling.
  13. Ripe tomatoes should be a deep red color and firm to the touch, but yield to pressure when you squeeze them.
  14. You can also tell that they’re ripe if they have a sweet aroma around the stem point, according to Gans.
  15. You should toss a tomato if it starts to soften and there’s liquid emerging from it or if mold begins to grow on it.
  16. The world’s biggest tomato fight, the Tomatina festival, involves 150,000 tomatoes and is held each year in Buñol, Spain.
  17. Tomato juice is the official beverage of the state of Ohio, going back to 1965.
  18. Although varieties of tomatoes are available year round, true tomato season is from June through September in the U.S., so get the freshest ones while you can.

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