Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

The Nutrition of Tomatoes

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Grape Tomatoes

Tomatoes have quite a history. Tomatoes are actually a fruit botanically, but in 1893, they were legally named a vegetable by the U.S. Supreme Court. That is because most people use them as vegetables. Until about the 16th century they were thought to be poisonous since they are members of the nightshade family that also contains toxic bittersweet and black henbane.  In the 1700’s, tomatoes were brought back to America after being taken to Spain from South and Central America where the Aztecs first cultivated it.

Cooked tomatoes provide more of the phytochemical, lycopene that has been studied for its effects on prostate cancer risks. The study found that when men ate more than 10 servings a week of tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato juice  and even pizza they had  47 percent fewer prostate cancers than men who only ate fewer than two servings a week. If tomatoes have anticancer properties, they are best consumed with a little fat because the lycopene is better absorbed. There is strong evidence that it may help prevent lung and stomach cancers.

There are other phytochemicals in tomatoes that act as antioxidants that may fight disease like lutein for healthy eyes and vision. it may prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly population.

Try to buy vine-ripened tomatoes whenever possible since they tend to taste better. Some are picked green and ripened artificially with ethylene gas that affects the taste. Due to its membership in the nightshade family, they contain a compound called solanine that may aggravate arthritis is some people. For those people, it is suggested that they avoid tomatoes for a while to see if the arthritis is affected. In addition, it you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) commonly known as heartburn, you may be bothered by the acid content of tomatoes.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as vitamin K and A, vitamin B6, folate, fiber, manganese, chromium, and potassium.

Although canned tomatoes  offer many nutrients, the appeal of the homegrown fresh tomato in the summertime cannot be challenged for the ultimate flavor of this popular fruit; I mean “vegetable”.













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