Lets talk tomatoes! Even if this yummy fruit- yes fruit, is not your favorite, chances are you love things like ketchup, salsa and pizza sauce. Did you ever wonder about the history of tomatoes or am I the only one who contemplates these issues?
The tomato is native to western South America and Central America. Native versions were small, like cherry tomatoes, and most likely yellow rather than red. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit. Very funny if you really think about it, as we ingest this in America almost more that any other food.
Spanish explorers are credited with introducing the tomato to Europe in the 1500s, where it was called pomodoro, Spanish for “golden apple”. Most likely they were yellow and not red tomatoes- more to follow about that. Pietro Andrea Mattioli was a a doctor and naturalist who in the year 1544 recommended seasoning food with salt, pepper and oil. This lead to the addition of tomatoes to the Italian cuisine in the 18th century giving us the current form of the pizza. Thank you someone! Pizza is my favorite food.
You ask what is so great about a tomato? Well – it contains lycopene which is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep color in fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. In one study on healthy men and women, it was shown that the lycopene from orange- and tangerine-colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red ones. Research shows an important connection between lycopene, its antioxidant properties, and bone health as well as heart health.
Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Consequently, tomatoes may help to ward off age related diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes. Important nutrients, such as niacin, folate and vitamin B6, have been associated with the reduction of heart disease in this yummy fruit.
Numerous studies have concluded that the more tomatoes people eat the lower their risks of certain cancers, especially lung, stomach and prostate cancers. They are high in important antioxidants such as vitamin C and Vitamin A. These vitamins work to fend off DNA damage from free radicals.
A double blind study found that drinking a glass of tomato juice a day can reduce blood levels of TNF-alpha by 34 percent. TNF-alpha causes inflammation. High levels have been found in individuals with most chronic, degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. Make that organic please!
And, if you don’t care about any of that, then eat them because they are delicious!
This week you can eat some fabulous tomatoes at Cuisine for Healing in our Turkey Loaf with Tomato Sauce, Red Cabbage and Sweet Potatoes or Tomato Basil Soup.
Happy Healthy Eating!