A fruit that is more commonly used as a vegetable, botanically classified in the poisonous fruit family (nightshade plants), packed with lots of nutrients, and that which brings the beautiful red colour to many of our recipes, please welcome the most popular fruit in the world- The Tomato!! First cultivated in 700 AD, explorers returning from Mexico introduced the tomato into Europe in 1556. The French called it "the apple of love," the Germans "the apple of paradise", due to the misconception that it acts as an aphrodisiac (you are free to try it out though and prove it wrong!:)) A single average tomato has only 35 calories, and it's better to eat it cooked than raw. Let's explore more health benefits that this red tiny-tot holds within itself.
Lycopene - A phytochemical (carotenoid) that is responsible for the red color of tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables is a powerful antioxidant and may help reduce the risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease. Unlike other carotenoids, lycopene is not converted into vitamin A by the body.Lycopene is a fat soluble substance that is found in the blood and tissues of the testes, adrenal glands, liver, prostate, breast, colon and lungs. Combined with vitamins C and E, it protect us from the free radicals that degrade many parts of the body.
Vitamins(A,B,C,E and K) - One tomato contains around 60-65% of the daily recommended vitamin intake.Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Vitamin C helps form connective tissue, keeps capillaries healthy to help prevent easy bruising, and keeps the gums healthy. It also helps the body to access iron from plant sources. Vitamin A assists in maintaining normal cellular growth, aids in the development of healthy skin, hair and mucous membranes, proper vision, development of bones and teeth and reproduction. Vitamin K helps to maintain blood clotting, thus helping to prevent hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding). Vitamin K is used fr healthy bone growth through mineralization.
Potassium - Like banana, tomato contains significant amount of potassium which helps regulate blood pressure and aids muscle contractions. It may also reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss.
Dietary fiber - The undigestible part of a plant, Fiber can aid digestion by preventing constipation and thereby prevent Piles or similar ailments.
Besides all the above, Tomato contains several other nutrients which combined with the above help in preventing prostrate, colon, lung, stomah and endometrial cancers. They help in increasing longevity of life, and also prevent cataracts. Though raw tomatoes are great for you, cooking them in oil releases Lycopene which is stored in its cell wall, and can be better absorbed by the body. They are best when consumed within a few days after ripening.
So the next time you go grocery shopping, remember this article and pick a couple extra tomatoes for its health benefits, if not for me!!