Tomatoes, The Superfood
Whether you consider them a fruit or vegetable – tomatoes are packed with nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and lycopene among others. Tomatoes come in a rainbow of colors making it easy to consume the rainbow at your next meal, after all we eat with our eyes first!
The History of Tomatoes
When you think of tomatoes what dishes come to mind? For some it is an Italian pasta or caprese salad. It may surprise you that although Italians are known for their delicious sauces, primitive tomatoes first grew in the Andes Mountains of South America. They are thought to have been first domesticated in the area which is now common day Mexico. The name of this colorful fruit is derived from the Aztec word tomatl, meaning “the swelling fruit.” The Spanish brought tomatoes to Europe where they were quickly adopted by many cultures including the Italians, as a staple. Tomatoes were not introduced to American soil until the 1700’s, and did not make their way into the northern states until around 1835.
In 1893 the U.S. Supreme court ruled that the tomato as legally a vegetable despite the botanical classification as a fruit. Regardless of their classification, tomatoes can be found in backyard gardens all across the country today.
The vivid red color of tomatoes comes from lycopene, an antioxidant that helps fight off free radical damage in the body. Lycopene has been found to support prostate health among other body systems. Unlike other nutrients, lycopene is best absorbed after being cooked as opposed to raw.
Rich in Vitamin C and A
Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Besides Vitamin C’s ability to help our immune system function efficiently, it also helps with the development of strong bones, healthy skin, and healthy gums!
Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A. Vitamin A supports eye health – specifically the health of the macula of the eye, which is responsible for our ability to see fine details. Beyond eye health, Vitamin A has many other benefits including, but not limited to supporting skin health, shiny hair and nails, and strong well developed bones. Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant that protects various systems from day to day damage.
Tomatoes are nutrient dense with a medium tomato containing an average of 30 calories per cup –Bon Appetite!
Check out these fun facts about tomatoes below!
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britanica. “Tomato.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 July 2018, www.britannica.com/plant/tomato.
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