Technically a fruit, tomatoes are seen and used as a vegetable; typically in recipes that are more savoury in nature. They pair well with salt of course, but also with herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, chives and more.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting them in a fruit salad. – Miles Kington
Tomatoes are a versatile fruit that come in several different varieties lending to their diverse role in cooking; alternate colours include yellow, green, orange, purple or blends. Check this site out to learn about heirlooms.
In addition to being an ingredient of many a great recipe, tomatoes and tomato products have loads of healthy attributes too; great taste and good nutrition in an unassuming package!
11 Reasons to Consume Tomatoes and Tomato Products:
1 medium tomato has a decent 300 mg of heart healthy potassium; almost as much as a medium banana. Potassium helps to slash high blood pressure; most don’t get enough potassium so adding tomatoes is a great low-calorie option. If you opt for tomato sauce, a concentrated tomato product, the potassium content jumps to a whopping 725 mg per cup !
A cousin of beta-carotene, lutein and other carotenoids, lycopene is a potent antioxidant; compounds that help to rust-proof your body. Rust proof your LDL cholesterol and reduce heart disease, rust proof your brain and reduce dementia, rust proof your body and reduce inflammation…the list goes on. Lycopene is well researched for its health effects. Lycopene is more concentrated in tomato products like tomato juice, paste, and sauce and is absorbed best when eaten with a source of fat.
Contrary to what you’ve heard, you do not need to drink an additional 8-10 glasses of water a day on top of other fluids [see my posts here & here]. This is because we get lots of water from food, other beverages and from cooking foods in water. Obey your thirst and you’ll be fine. On that note, tomatoes are about 93% water by weight.
4. Cardiovascular Disease:
Studies have routinely found a positive association between tomato & tomato product consumption and lower rates of cardiovascular disease; assessed both by food records, and levels of lycopene in the blood and fat stores which reflect long term tomato consumption
5. Cancer Prevention:
Like cardiovascular disease, tomatoes & tomato products have been linked to lower rates of cancer including prostate and breast. The prostate selectively concentrates lycopene in its tissues suggestive of the important role it plays in prostate health.
6. Skin Health:
Certain carotenoids are concentrated in the skin such as lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene. One study found that lycopene lowered the risk for sunburn likely due to it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Tomatoes & tomato products are a great addition to any dietary anti-inflammatory toolkit. Diet is a great way to fight the inflammation that results from, and contributes to most degenerative chronic diseases. The sad reality as well is that chronic low-grade inflammation is a natural part of aging; something that starts to out pace the body’s ability to fight but many foods are able to fight inflammation including tomatoes due to their high lycopene content.
Tomatoes are relatively cheap to buy. When they’re in season, farmers’ markets and grocery stores tend to have tomatoes at really good prices. Because they’re produced world wide in large amounts, getting canned or jarred tomatoes at rock bottom prices is easy. They make a great staple for the pantry.
9. Easy to Use:
Whether you’re cracking open a can of tomato juice, garden cocktail, throwing a can of diced tomatoes into some sauteed garlic, onions and basil, including and enjoying tomatoes and tomato products is easy.
10. Easy to Grow:
Since they’re a hardy species, growing tomatoes is pretty much fail safe. They can been grown in backyard gardens, on condo balconies, or as hanging plants if space is tight. Note, tomato plants are real hogs for water so you’ll need to keep an eye on them; they’re thirsty buggers.
11. Bone Protection:
I know what you’re thinking – bone health? For real? Yes and it has nothing to do with calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, boron, vitamin K2 or zinc. It all goes back to lycopene. As an antioxidant, it helps to protect bone cells from oxidation; less oxidation, less breakdown of bone tissue!