Tomatoes are one of the best loved and most consumed fruits around the world and the many health benefits of tomatoes are second to none. In fact, of all the non-starchy ‘vegetables, Americans consume more tomatoes and tomato products than any others. Organic tomatoes are fairy easy to grow and do well in backyard gardens as well as container gardening. The taste of home-grown heirloom tomatoes is unparalleled especially when compared to the tasteless grocery store varieties. As far as many tomato-lovers are concerned, a bite from a freshly picked heirloom tomato is something that everyone should get to experience at least once in their lifetime.
Related: Simple & Easy Pico De Gallo Recipe
History of the Tomato
The tomato has become the most popular vegetable in America. The tomato plant is native to South America and made its way to Mexico, where it was grown by Aztecs. There is ample evidence that the Aztecs ate tomatoes in a mixture which included peppers, corn, and salt, possibly similar to a primitive salsa recipe. Though the future “king of Mediterranean cuisine,” as the tomato is now often called, arrived in Europe in 1523, it would be a very long while before it was actually accepted as a consumable food. Instead, the tomato was scrutinized by curious botanists in European courts, and mostly appreciated for its ornamental qualities. It seems that for much of the 16th century, fear and superstition prevented most Europeans from actually eating the fruit. Only a few adventurous souls drank its juice, or ate it—fried in oil, with salt and pepper.
DID YOU KNOW?
Storing your tomatoes in the fridge halts the ripening process and diminishes the flavor and texture – so if you want a great tasting tomato, the fridge is out. To ripen quickly, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple and let the ethylene gas do its work. Never use metal pans, spoons or storage containers with tomatoes because impurities and poisons, including aluminum, can be absorbed first by the tomato products, and then your body when ingested.
It seems controversy has also surrounded the tomato. Debate was high about whether the tomato was actually a vegetable or a fruit. In 1887, the question went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in ‘Nix v. Hedden’. However, of course, the real issue was money and protection for American growers. If tomatoes were vegetables, they could be taxed when imported under the Tariff Act of 1883. The Court ruled on the side of American farmers. Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas, even if most people consider them vegetables.
16 Health Benefits of Tomatoes
The natural health benefits of tomatoes are varied and many. For example, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a verygood source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorous, vitamin E and even protein. Below are some other less-known health benefits of tomatoes.
- excellent source of potassium
- supports a healthy inflammation response
- may help burn fat
- reduces risk of ovarian cancer
- reduces risk of heart disease
- reduces risk of lung disease and asthma
- reduces prostate cancer risk by as much as 40%
- organic tomatoes contain higher amounts of Vitamin C
- reduces urinary tract infections
- reduces oxidative stress
- tomato is the fruit of the plant solanum lycopersicum
- supports healthy vision
- boosts gut health
- reduces risk of hypertension
- supports healthy gallbladder
- largest source of dietary lycopene
Tomatoes are often described as a cause of inflammation and can increase risk of unwanted inflammation rather than reducing it. However, research studies concerning tomatoes consistently indicate a very different scenario — one in which tomato intake is actually connected to a decreased risk of unwanted inflammation and a decreased risk of oxidative stress. In my opinion, these studies should not be pushed-aside, especially when we understand the wealth of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients provided to they body by consuming tomatoes. Even though carotenoids have been the key area of research focus in this regard, tomatoes actually offer an extensive list of health-supportive phytonutrients. This list includes flavonoids, carotenoids, saponins, and fatty acid derivatives.
Raw V8 Juice Recipe
All produce should be organic or locally grown.
6 medium-sized carrots
1 small beet
3 large tomatoes
Kale leaves (small amount)
1 bag baby spinach
1/4 head fresh cabbage
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
3 stalks celery
1/4 sweet onion
1/2 clove garlic
Chili pepper or organic Tabasco sauce to taste
Himalayan Crystal Salt to taste
Wash all vegetables thoroughly. Run vegetables through juicer. Sit back and enjoy a healthy glass of V8 Juice!
Why Organic Tomatoes Are Better For You
A study at the University of Barcelona found that organic tomatoes are produced in an environment that provides a lower nutrient supply because nitrogen-rich chemical fertilizers are not included. This causes extreme formation of antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol in organic tomatoes. We understand that antioxidants are great for health and can help in lowering heart disease. On the other hand, chemical-based tomato farming involves spraying tomatoes with large amounts of harmful pesticides and insecticides. In fact, tomatoes are one of the most highly sprayed crops throughout the entire world. It’s always best to eat organic. In fact, for many organic produce lovers, tomatoes are the usually the first plant that goes into their vegetable garden during the growing season!
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Zeng Z, He W, Jia Z, et al. Lycopene Improves Insulin Sensitivity through Inhibition of STAT3/Srebp-1c-Mediated Lipid Accumulation and Inflammation in Mice fed a High-Fat Diet. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2017 May 4. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-101919.