The tomato is in the same family as potato, tobacco, pepper and aubergine – the nightshade family or Solanacea. It is technically a berry, however simply through chance we eat it as a vegetable and not as a fruit.
Unknown to many people, tomatoes can come in many shapes, sizes and colours. White, orange, pink, green and red are possible colours and they can measure 1-4 inches in diameter.
A brief history of the Tomato
They are believed to originate from the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. They were first cultivated and improved by the Indians, then moved North with Mexican tribes such as the Aztecs or Toltecs.
It was these tribes who gave the tomato its name from their word ‘tomatl’, meaning ‘apple of paradise’ or ‘apple of life’. In Italy during the sixteenth century golden coloured tomatoes known as ‘pomo d’oro’ were cultivated, and by the end of that century they had spread to England and through the rest of Europe. The main use was ornamental however, and they only became popular as a food after 1880.
Today tomatoes are often of a poor quality, due mainly to the fact that they are harvested prematurely and rarely allowed to ripen on the vine. Therefore, many of us do not appreciate the value of tomatoes in the diet because we so rarely taste them at their optimum.
The best tomatoes to eat are field grown organic ones and grown this way they are valuable as either whole fruits, pulp or juice. Juices however should be unsalted, as sodium promotes water retention in the cells.
What do tomatoes offer?
Tomatoes are high in a very beneficial carotenoid called lycopene which along with the generous levels of Vitamin C makes tomatoes high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds which ‘mop up’ harmful free radicals which circulate in the body, and therefore help reduce the risk of cell mutations and help to keep the organs and systems of the body functioning properly.
The Vitamin C content of tomatoes also makes them very valuable for boosting the immune system, therefore they can help to combat infectious diseases.
There are also many other nutrients in tomato, specifically pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene), many individual vitamin B complex members, organic acids, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.
In addition to these there are traces of vitamin D, iron, copper and cobalt. This makes tomato juice a valuable food for invalids and those with sensitive digestive tracts, especially as it also tends to stimulate the appetite. If the liver is below par tomato juice will still be tolerated, and cramps can be alleviated by it due to the magnesium content.
Tomatoes – Health Benefits
The Tomato and our Cardiovascular System
- The Tomato has been shown in research help to prevent abnormal Blood Clotting.
- The Tomato has beneficial nutrients that can help lower Hypertension.
- Tomato extract may have a role in primary prevention of Thrombosis.
The Tomato and our Immune System
Tomatoes help to protect against several form of malignant cells according to research which include:
- The Colon
- Oesophageal Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Mouth Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Pharyngeal Cancer
- Prostate Cancer (the protective effects of tomatoes against prostate cancer are due to their Lycopene content which reduces the risk of prostate cancer by up to 50% when consumed regularly).
- Stomach Cancer
The Tomato and our Metabolism
- Tomato’s provide many benefits for our metabolism that include lowering total cholesterol levels.
- Importantly the tomato contains nutrients that significantly reduced the levels of what is considered to be the “bad” form of cholesterol – the LDL cholesterol.
- Good news is that research has shown that nutrients in the tomato raised the levels of what is considered “good” cholesterol – the HDL Cholesterol.
- Regarding our skin people who experience Psoriasis were found to have a reduced severity of the condition when higher intakes of tomatoes were consumed.
The Tomato and our Respiratory System
- It is interesting to note that some research has shown that women who had a higher intake of tomatoes had a lower incidence of Asthma attacks.
The Tomato and the Prostate
- Elevated PSA of the prostate was lowered after 2 months of consuming Tomato (paste).
General Tomato Advice
- The nutrients in the tomato are more active and effective when consumed raw, cooked tomatoes have a reduced amount of beneficial nutrients however they still retain many valuable nutrients.
- Do not over eat large quantities of tomato (or carrot) as the lycopene will build up in the body and eventually colour the complexion due to storage in fat cells just beneath the skin.
- Keep an eye on your tomato consumption if you have allergies such as eczema as they may exacerbate the symptoms. If you notice a correlation between eating tomatoes and a worsening of symptoms it will probably be worth taking them out of the diet altogether.
- The tomato is a member of the nightshade family and is best to not overly consumed continually. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as they may aggravate the condition.
The Tomato and Keeping Young
It is interesting to note that the tomato has nutrients that slow down the ageing process and help keep a younger appearance.
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NOTE: The information in this document is not intended to replace orthodox medical treatment. The information offered in this document is offered as additional complimentary information.