Let’s get to the bad news first. It has long been rumored that a disgruntled British loyalist tried to whack George Washington with a tomato-laced stew, believing as many did at the time that these red devils were poisonous. Well, GW didn’t die, at least not from the stew, but the centuries-old tale has put a small blemish, so to speak, on tomatoes ever since. The good news for tomato lovers is that the alleged assassination attempt, along with the earlier belief that tomatoes were harmful, hasn’t slowed their culinary popularity. In fact, the world now produces about 200 million tons of tomatoes every year, which are consumed with increasing glee in all sorts of forms in virtually every country on earth. Little wonder given their amazing taste, beauty and diverse applications. But wait. There is more. Tomatoes aren’t just tasty. They’re actually a healthy food. Oh yeah, one other thing. Tomatoes are not vegetables. They are berries or fruit. Read on.
Stand back as a lone tomato can provide about 40 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C. It can also deliver a healthy dollop of vitamin A, which supports immunity and skin health, and vitamin K, which can boost bones. Not enough? There is also potassium in tomatoes, which helps heart function and blood pressure.
The high levels of lycopene in tomatoes are believed to help lower an individual’s risk of developing prostate, colorectal and stomach cancer. A natural antioxidant, lycopene works to slow the growth of cancerous cells. Surprisingly, cooked tomatoes deliver up more lycopene than fresh ones.
Given a tomato’s high fluid and fiber content, it is a perfect remedy for constipation. Be aware, however, that the acidity in cooked tomatoes may trigger acid reflux in some. Tabbouleh, thankfully, can help fix that.
The vitamin A in tomatoes may also help improve vision and prevent night-blindness and macular degeneration. Vision problems can occur as a result of the negative effects of free radicals. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A helps reduce this risk.
Anyone with diabetes should look to put vegetables and fruits in their diet. However, researchers have also found that tomatoes seem to lower the oxidative stress, inflammation, atherosclerosis and tissue damage that diabetes triggers.
Some research now suggests that consuming tomatoes daily may help treat depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers, in fact, identified tomatoes as a key fruit for enhancing the nutritional diversity of your diet. Tomatoes ultimately add vitamins B and E, which seem to have the ability to limit neural degeneration.
Tomatoes by themselves won’t prevent skin cancer, but their phytonutrients can help protect against some of the effects of UVB damage. Putting tomatoes in a regular diet may just improve an individual’s resilience to certain types of dangerous sun rays. (Here are other ways to stay safe in summer.)
Other than flawed assignation attempts, what’s your favorite use of tomatoes? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.