Until the 1800s, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous. Today they are known to contain more Vitamin C than oranges and to contain lycopene (the red pigment) which, some research suggests, may have twice the power of the well-known antioxidant beta carotene.
As a general rule, food is better eaten raw rather than cooked. But in the case of tomatoes, raw and cooked are both better! Want the vitamin C benefits? Then eat them raw. If you want the antioxidant benefits then you need your tomatoes cooked or at least heated. And yes, tomatoes are a rare case in which (for antioxidant reasons) saucing and canning also improves them.
One last thing – much of the good is in the red. So eat your tomatoes very ripe and very red.
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