Tomato or tomahto? A fruit or vegetable?

Putting aside pronunciation and classification to focus on the tomato’s various uses.

No matter how you pronounce tomato, it doesn’t change the power this fruit can offer. Tomatoes come in a variety of sizes and colors. They can be used to create a spaghetti sauce, to a base for sweet salsas. Fresh or raw, tomatoes are rich in vitamins A, B and C. Should we debate over its classification or just enjoy?Recipe: Late summer tomato bruschetta

Maybe the versatility and health benefits allow people to overlook the debate about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Botanically, speaking, according to Nix v. Hedden, a tomato is fruit on the vine, but because tomatoes are eaten as a part of the main meal due to their flavor and use, unlike fruit which is usually used in desserts, it’s a vegetable. This Supreme Court decision didn’t end the debate in 1893, but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the tomato’s benefits.

Tomatoes, in addition to providing vitamins A, B, and C have the benefits of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals (plant chemicals) may help protect against cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Tomatoes have the carotenoid, lycopene, which may fight cancer in a number of ways. Tomatoes, especially cooked or processed may reduce the risk of prostate and other cancers. Phytochemicals work along with other phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals found in foods, so it’s important to eat a variety from MyPlate’s food groups.

Recommended by Michigan State University Extension, the following is a way to enjoy fresh tomatoes, but canned tomatoes can be substituted.

Late summer tomato bruschetta

1 loaf French bread

6 tomatoes

6 basil leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic


Preheat a grill or grill pan. Chop tomatoes and basil. In a bowl, combine chopped tomatoes and basil, olive oil and black pepper to taste. Slice your bread into one-inch thick slices. Place slices on a dry grill to brown (about 30 seconds per side). Remove bread from grill or grill pan and rub each side will cloves of garlic. Top bread with a spoonful of tomato and basil mixture and serve immediately.

For more information related to tomatoes from MSU Extension, please visit the links below.

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