Is it a Fruit or a Vegetable?
Tomatoes are often considered a vegetable, though in actuality they are a citrus fruit. Tomatoes are delicious eaten raw, in salads or on sandwiches, and take on a wonderful sweetness when cooked. Their high acid content makes them a perfect food for canning. It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that they became a staple food in the U.S.
The Aztec civilizations of Mexico were the first cultivators and the word “tomato” may actually originate from the Nahautl (Aztecan) word “tomatl “, meaning “the swelling fruit.” It wasn’t until the 1500’s that Spanish explorers and colonizers brought tomato seeds from Mexico back to Spain and introduced this food to European populations.
Regardless of its name, the tomato is a wonderfully popular and versatile food that comes in over a thousand different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color. There are small cherry tomatoes, bright yellow tomatoes, Italian pear-shaped tomatoes, and the green tomato, famous for its fried preparation in Southern American cuisine.
17 AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS OF TOMATOES:
- Fights Diabetes: The valuable mineral, chromium, along with tomato’s rich fiber content, effectively keep blood sugar levels under control. Alpha-lipoic acid helps the body to convert glucose into energy, aiding in blood glucose control, improving vasodilation and protecting against retinopathy in diabetic patients.
- Cardiovascular Health: The fiber, potassium, vitamin B and C, lycopene, and choline content in tomatoes are effective in reducing levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels, in preventing serum lipid oxidation-which leads to arterial deposits, and in lowering blood pressure. High potassium intake and lower sodium intake reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Vision Care: The vital antioxidant vitamin A (formed from an excess of beta-carotene) along with the flavonoid compound, Zea-xanthin, helps prevent night blindness, and reduces the risk of macular degeneration, by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
- Lowers Hypertension: The abundance of potassium in tomatoes, acts as a vasodilator, reducing the tension in blood vessels and arteries, increasing circulation and lowering the stress on the heart. High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
- Aids Weight Loss: Tomatoes are choc-a-block with water and fiber, increasing your satiety and providing such a diverse set of nutrients, minerals and vitamins without the negative impact of calories, sodium and fats. Must have in any weight loss diet recipes.
- Digestive Health: The impressive amount of fiber and water, stimulates peristaltic motion in the smooth digestive muscles, releases gastric and digestive juices, bulks up stool, reduces symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. It also prevents jaundice and effectively removes toxins from the body.
- Anti- Cancer: Lycopene can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Tomatoes’ antioxidants (vitamins A and C) prevent cell damage due to oxidative stress from free radicals. Beta-carotene and high fiber content prevents development of colorectal cancer.
- Skin Care: The potent carotenoids, Lycopene and beta caretone, and antioxidant Vitamin C, help protect skin against UV-induced erythema, strengthens skin by inhibiting the activity of collagenases —enzymes involved in the breakdown of collagen, necessary to keep your skin healthy, supple and wrinkle free.
- Strong Teeth: Tomato’s antibacterial and antifungal properties and the wonder carotenoid, Lycopene, prevent oral infections and aid in tooth and gum health.
- Anti-Toxin: Acids (coumaric and chlorogenic) along with lycopene, work to protect the body from carcinogens (nitrosamines), and neutralize the toxic effects of aflatoxins (a type of mold often found in peanuts and peanut butter) and cadmium, which is found in cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke and frequently in air pollution.
- Strong Bones: The vitamin K, calcium and Lycopene in tomatoes improve bone tissue density, strengthen and speed bone repair, helping fight bone diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis.
- Prevents Urinary Tract Infections: The high water content in tomatoes act as a mild diuretic, stimulating urination and increasing the elimination of toxins, excess water, salts, uric acid, and some fat from the body. Tomato reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections, as well as bladder cancer.
- Prevents Stones: High potassium levels reduce the chances of developing, and also help dissolve, kidney and gallstones.
- Hair Care: The Vitamin A in tomatoes works perfectly to keep your hair shiny and strong.
- Pregnancy: The magical folic acid is vital for pregnant mothers supplementing fetal development and preventing congenital disorders like spinal disorders (Spina Bifida) and neural tube defects in the fetus.
- Anti-Depressant: The folic acid prevents formation of excess homocysteine, which has shown to block blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.
- Vitamin Source: Super rich source of Vitamins A, C, K, fiber, folate, potassium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. Contains beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene, zea-xanthin, and lutein. Provides all this while being super low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories
Side Effects and Allergies Associated with Tomatoes:
- Some people may be allergic to tomatoes; their body cannot absorb and digest them.
- In some individuals eating tomatoes in salads can lead to itching, hives and breathing problems.
- Lycopene intolerance can cause bloating of the stomach, pain and diarrhea.
- For some, eating tomatoes in any form can result in heart burn and reflux.
- When a person has a history of kidney stones, it would be wise to eat tomatoes in moderation as the high oxalate and calcium bind together and kidney stones are a result.