The botanical name of tomatoes is Solanum lycopersicum. They are believed to be native to Mexico. Tomatoes consist of a large number of antioxidants that have been proven to fight different forms of cancer. They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and exert a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. These carotenoids may have individual benefits, but they also work together as a group. Lycopene is thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids.
The many health benefits of tomatoes can be attributed to their wealth of nutrients and vitamins, including high concentrations of vitamins A, C and K, as well as significant amounts of thiamin, vitamin B6 and folate.
Health benefits of eating tomatoes include:
- Increased protection from bacterial and viral infections
- Increased immune function
- Reduced cancer risk
- Protection against heart disease
- Alleviation of cardiovascular disease
- Alleviation of hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Protection against Alzheimer's disease
- Protection against osteoporosis
- Stroke prevention
- Antioxidant protection
- Prevention of epileptic seizures
- Prevention of alopecia (spot baldness)
Note: Chemical-based tomato farming involves spraying tomatoes with large quantities of pesticides and insecticides. Tomatoes are a highly sprayed crop throughout the world. Therefore, many organic food lovers choose eat organic tomatoes to avoid these contaminants.
- Select tomatoes that are deeply colored and firm, with a little give. Sniff all tomatoes if you can. If they’re missing that sweet, woody smell, leave them behind. Check grape tomatoes for wrinkles, a sign of age.
- Perfectly ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature on the counter away from sunlight. Make sure they're in a single layer, not touching one another, and stem side up. Consume within a couple of days
- Overripe tomatoes that are soft to touch with very red flesh are best kept in the fridge. The cold air will keep the tomatoes from ripening more, and they should last for another three days
- When you refrigerate tomatoes, any ripening you still want to happen will stop because of the cold, which also means you stop the development of their yummy flavors. The cold can turn the flesh dry and mealy, and a lot of juiciness is lost.
- Tomatoes are a great addition to bean and vegetable soups.
- Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers for an easy-to-make salsa dip.
- Puree tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and scallions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make the refreshing cold soup called gazpacho.
- Add tomato slices to sandwiches and salads. To keep things colorful, use yellow, green and purple tomatoes in addition to red ones.