Tomatoes

Tomatoes

TomatoesWhether you consider tomatoes to be a fruit or a vegetable, there is no doubt that it a product full of healthy nutrients. Tomatoes are not only incredibly versatile, but they are also easy to add to your diet. You can eat them on their own, use them as part of a salad or use them to make your own pasta sauce. Keep reading this article to find out more about tomatoes.

Description

Tomatoes are the fruit of the plant which is called Lucopersicon esculentum. Thus, it is therefore no surprise that many people consider the food item to be a fruit. Actually, tomatoes can also considered to be a berry. This is because it is actually developed from a single ovary. In France, tomatoes are often referred to as “pomme d’amour”. This means the apple of love. Also in Italy do people often refer to tomatoes in a different way. Italians refer to tomatoes as “pomodoro”,  which means golden apple. It thought that Italians refer to tomatoes in this way due to the many different varieties of tomatoes. They can be purchased in the colors orange, yellow or tangerine. Tomatoes are widely available all over the world and are used in wide variety of dishes. There are over a thousand different types of tomatoes. They do not only vary in size and in shape, but they also vary in color. The most popular types of tomatoes are small cherry tomatoes, big fleshy tomatoes and the regular-size tomatoes. Beef master tomatoes are probably among some of the largest type of tomatoes. Tomatoes which have a medium size are called Roma tomatoes. The green tomato is particularly famous in South America. In this region it is mostly used in fried preparation. While tomatoes grow on a plant, only the fruit of the plant are eaten. This is because the leaves of the plant contain high levels of alkaloids. Tomatoes have a round shape, and are filled with a watery matrix containing seeds. The inside of the tomato usually has a red or pink color, depending on the type of tomato. Tomatoes are mostly available all year round. They are usually planted in early summer times and are  ripe from July to September. Tomatoes are often also grown in green-houses to ensure that people can enjoy the fruit all year round.

History

Many people associate tomatoes with the Italian cuisine due to the use of tomatoes in pasta sauce, on toast or as a base for pizza. However, tomatoes are not native to Italy. Tomatoes were first found on the western side of South America. They were found in Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Columbia. A group of islands called the Galapagos Islands are also believed to be a native area for tomatoes. It is said that the first type of tomatoes found in this region show more resemblance to the small and round cherry tomatoes, than to the larger vary of tomatoes. It is not exactly clear where the word tomato came from, but it is said to originate from the Nahautl word “tomatl”. This term actually means “the swelling fruit”. Around the 1500s is when Europe became first exposed to tomatoes and its use. Spanish colonizers brought tomato seeds back to Europe after having found them in Mexico. This was the first time the European population got in touch with the fruit. While tomatoes quickly spread around all of Europe, not many people were very keen on the fruit. Many people considered the fruit to be unfit to eat. Part of the reason why people considered the fruit to be inappropriate is because the fruit came from a nightshade plant. It was therefore believed that tomatoes could potentially be poisonous. However, other vegetables which belong to the same family type of plant are potatoes, eggplant, paprika and peppers. Today, more than 130 million tons of tomatoes are produced and consumed on a global scale. The country which is producing the most tomatoes is China. China produces an average of 34 million tons of tomatoes each year. China is then followed by the United States, India, Turkey and Italy. Mexico also produces tomatoes. However, most of the tomatoes grown in Mexico are exported to the United States.

Anti-cancer benefits

Different researches have been conducted on tomatoes and the influence it could have on various cancer types. Various studies have found that tomatoes can provide us with anti-cancer benefits. Research has also found that tomatoes are full of anti-oxidants. While some research has also been conducted on tomatoes and their anti-inflammatory nutrients, more research is needed to confirm these results. The risk for many different types of cancer starts with chronic unwanted inflammation. It is therefore recommended to consume foods which provide us with both anti-oxidant support as well as anti-inflammatory support. These properties have been found to play a role in the prevention of cancer. The field which has been explored most is the relation between the consumption of tomatoes and the development of prostate cancer. Various studies have concluded that tomatoes lower the risk of prostate cancer among men. One of the nutrients which has been given extra attention is the nutrient called alpha-tomatine. This nutrient has been proven to alter activity in the metabolic system and therefore helps to prevent prostate cancer cells from developing. Two other forms of cancer which have been studied in relation to tomato intake are breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. Research in these fields has shown that in the nutrient called lycopene plays an important role in the risk reduction of both breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. Lycopene is actually a natural antioxidant. It has also been proven that tomatoes which are cooked, produce even higher levels of lycopene. Thus, what could be better than enjoying a nice bowl of tomato soup while receiving many health benefits?


Cardiovascular benefits

Tomatoes have also been proven to have a positive effect on our cardiovascular system. Tomatoes have a high concentration of potassium, fiber and vitamin B and C. All these nutrients play an important role in lowering blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels. According to a clinical professor at the Vanderbilt Medical School there is one great challenge to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This challenge is to increase the intake  of potassium while at the same type decreasing the level of sodium intake. Since many food products contain high levels of sodium, it is important to compensate by consuming high levels of potassium. A study has shown that people who consumed 4069 mg of potassium a day had a 49 percent lower chance of heart disease. This was in relation to people who only consumed about 1000 mg of potassium a day. Another health benefit of increased potassium intake is the reduced risk of stroke. Also, potassium has also been shown to play a role in the protection of loss of muscle mass. Moreover, it can also help to reduce the risk of the formation of stones in the kidney. Another nutrient present in tomatoes which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease is called folic acid. Folic acid helps to keep the level of homocysteine in our bodies balances.  Another interesting field of research is the relation between tomato intake and its influence on blood cells called platelets. Sometimes it occurs that the platelets are clumping together. This unwanted clotting could cause problems for our bloodstream. For example, a blockage could occur. Various nutrients in tomatoes have shown to prevent the clumping of our platelet cells.

How to select and store

Tomatoes are widely available and should be available in every supermarket. If you do not have a supermarket close, your local vegetable market seller will most likely also be selling tomatoes. When choosing tomatoes there are a few things to pay attention to. When picking tomatoes, choose those which have a rich red color. Depending what kind of tomatoes you will be needing, you can also choose bright yellow ones or those with a vibrant orange color. All types of tomatoes provide a great deal of nutritional benefits. Moreover, make sure that the skin of the tomato is smooth. It should also be free from any bruises, soft spots or wrinkles. Also, make sure that the tomatoes are a bit firm rather that puffy. Those with a puffy appearance are usually associated with having a bad flavor. Those which are ripe can often be recognized since they have a sweet fragrance to them. Most people often buy tomatoes in cans. This is easy because you do not have to feel them, and most pasta sauce recipes require canned tomatoes. However, when buying canned tomatoes, pay attention to where the cans are produced. Not all countries have strict policies with regards to the lead content in containers. Thus, it is important to check where the cans are from to prevent tomatoes being exposed to corrosion. While most people store tomatoes in the fridge, it is not a recommended place for storing the fruit. This is because tomatoes are incredibly sensitive to the cold. Rather, store tomatoes at room temperature and make sure that the tomatoes are not exposed to sunlight. Most tomatoes will last for about a week. This is, however, dependent on how ripe they were of at the moment of purchase. If you want to speed up the ripening process of the fruit, place them in a paper bag with a banana. They should then be ripe in one or two days. Chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce and even whole tomatoes can easily be frozen. Sun-dried tomatoes, on the other hand, are not recommended to store in the freezer. Instead, put them in an airtight container in olive oil and store them in a dry place.

Recipes with tomatoes

We have shown that tomatoes provide a wide range of health benefits. Since tomatoes are incredibly versatile, it is easy to incorporate them in your diet. Whether you want to be able to use tomatoes for your tomato sauce, or just eat them on your own, the use of tomatoes is endless. In Italy, tomatoes are not only used to make tomato sauce, but they are often served as part of a caprese salad. A caprese salad is a combination of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. This salad is perfect as a side dish for any meal, and is a great combination of flavors. Tomatoes are also often served on a bruschetta. To make delicious homemade bruschetta, chop up fresh tomatoes. Continue to season them with fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently brush sliced ciabatta with olive oil. Place these slices of bread in the oven and wait until they are well toasted. Top the slices of bread with your mix of tomatoes, and enjoy your homemade bruschetta. If you want to make a basic tomato sauce, start by frying garlic and onion. Continue to add fresh or canned tomatoes and some tomato puree. Season the tomato mix with oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook the sauce on low heat until the sauce has a deep red color. This basic tomato sauce can be used as a basis for your bolognese sauce, arrabiate sauce or chilli. You can also store the sauce in the freezer. Often, the sauce even tastes better the day after it has been cooked.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1923x
Added: 20-11-2016 13:20
Last modified: 21-12-2016 22:01

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