Whether you say tom-eh-to or you say tom-ah-to, you can be sure that this sweet little fruit is going to do your body good. As we come full-swing into tomato season, here are eight interesting facts about tomatoes.
1. It is a fruit. Although many people believe that tomatoes are vegetables, they are actually fruits.
2. Italian in origin … not so much. Although popular as an ingredient in Italian cuisine, tomatoes are originally native to the western side of South America. However, it was first cultivated in Mexico; and it was through Columbus that seeds were first introduced to Europe.
3. Antioxidant powerhouse. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. They are antioxidants that are instrumental in neutralizing free radicals known to potentially damage cells, which can increase inflammation and the progression or severity of disease. Diets high in these antioxidants have been shown to help reduce the risk or severity of all of these illnesses. Lycopene, especially, helps protect cells from oxygen damage and heart disease.
4. Prostate, colon, and pancreas. Although tomatoes are great cancer fighters in general, they are specifically known to promote prostate and colon health. Further, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that those consuming a diet high in lycopene had a diminished risk for pancreatic cancer.
5. Organic matters. In tomatoes, research has shown that organic tomatoes and organic tomato products provide a much greater dose of lycopene than non-organic.
6. Fiber factor. Tomatoes are a great source of fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
7. Canned isn’t so bad. Although I’m a fan of au natural—or right off the plant—when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, I can get behind canned tomato products. Is a matter of fact, some believe that canned products are better than fresh whole tomatoes because the nutrients are higher in concentration than the fresh fruit.
8. Every color of the rainbow. Tomatoes come in every color except for blue. You can find them in red, orange, yellow, green, and even purple!
Ways to enjoy tomatoes:
- Dishes: gazpacho, salads, tomato and avocado salad, minestrone soups, chili
- Sauces: tomato-based sauces, salsas, ketchup, cocktail sauce
- Drinks: tomato juice, bloody mary’s
Do you like tomatoes? Do you incorporate them into your diet daily? Any favorite recipes?