Tomatoes are one of the most important elements of everyone’s kitchen. Whether consumed raw in salads and salsas or as a topping on your pizza, tomatoes bring their own flavor to all our recipes. Tomatoes can be found in local markets all through the year. When in comes to health, tomatoes benefits are numerous in nature. They have high amounts of Vitamin C which can help you protect against the common cold. The vitamin A in them can help improve your eyes as well as your hair. Read all about tomatoes, their health benefits, their side effects and how to buy and store them.
In case you are able to read this article, there are very less chances that you may not have eaten or seen a tomato before. Did you know that tomatoes are actually fruits than vegetables? The reason why they are considered generally as vegetables is the fact that they are a part of almost all types of food that we prepare.
Right from the humble green salad, to the tangy salsa, tomatoes are present everywhere. This is the reason why it is hard to believe that tomatoes are a very recent addition to our diets. It was not up till 1900s that tomatoes were famous and popular in the United States. Also, in the earlier days, the Europeans considered tomatoes to be poisonous. However, due to the tomatoes benefits for our body and health as well as the taste enhancement done by them, they have gained popularity all across the world.
Tomatoes come in a lot of varieties and when we say at lot, we mean more than 500 varieties. Finding it hard to believe? Refer to the list here.
However, for all practical purposes, we can categorize tomatoes under three different types.
1) Green Tomatoes: The tomatoes that are still unripe and green in color. One of the biggest Green tomato benefits is the fact that they are highly packed with Vitamin K, which is necessary for helping blood clotting and reducing excessive bleeding.
Green tomatoes are rich in a compound called tomatidine. Researchers have discovered that this compound can stimulate growth of human muscle cells. The can help you excercise for longer duration. Therefore, in case you are looking at building muscles, you may want to eat a lot of green tomatoes. However, these reports are still uncofirmed and researchers do not know what is the optimum quantity to consume.
2) Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are smaller variety of tomatoes that are consumed primarily in salads and generally raw. Please note that cherry tomatoes are a separate variety of tomatoes and not the normal tomatoes that may have ripened early :).
Cherry tomatoes are one of the favorite vegetables grown in your kitchen gardens. They are easy to grow and nurture as well.
3) Normal tomatoes: This is a variety of tomato that all of us are familiar with.
Tip: Did you know that eating slightly less ripe tomatoes (orange color) may be much more beneficial to health than the fully ripe red one? Learn More
No matter what is the type of tomatoes that you consume, the tomatoes benefits remain more or less the same. The anti-oxidants in tomatoes remain considerably similar in all varieties of tomatoes. Some other health benefits of tomatoes include lowering cholesterol and improving immune system. In case you want to know more how tomatoes benefits our health, please refer to our section on Health Benefits.
Also refer to these links if you want to know more about tomatoes benefits
The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks.
Storage: Keep unripe green tomatoes, stem side down, in a paper bag. Place in a cool area until they turn red in color. Perfectly ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature. Consume within a couple of days. Overripe tomatoes that are soft to touch with very red flesh are best kept in the fridge.
Cleaning & Cutting: Wash well in running water . Gently squeeze out the seeds, using a finger or a small table knife to help empty the chambers. Lay the seeded tomato halves, cut side down, on a cutting board. Holding the serrated knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the tomato halves horizontally into slices.
How to Buy: Squeeze the tomatoes gently. Fresh tomatoes should have taught, shiny skin with a uniform red color. The skin should give a little when squeezed, but not feel mushy.
Special Steps: Pick tomatoes from the top of the pile. Tomatoes in the middle or near the bottom could be bruised by the weight of the tomatoes on top of them and are probably older and less fresh than the tomatoes above.
TIP: Tomatoes keep best unwashed at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
Tomatoes are also very low in any fat contents and have zero cholesterol levels. They are an excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. On account of their all-round qualities, dieticians and nutritionists often recommend them in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction diet-programs.
Mineral Content: Fresh tomato is very rich in potassium. 100 g contain 237 mg of potassium and just 5 mg of sodium, they also carry average levels of vital B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and other trace elements.
Vitamin & Compounds: Tomatoes contain very good levels of vitamin A, Vitamin C and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as α and ß-carotenes, xanthins and lutein.
Water Content: Tomato is 94 percent water by weight.
Carbohydrate Content: Tomatoes provide just 18 calories per 100 g.
The benefits of consuming tomatoes, are infinite. Tomatoes consumption goes up, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer goes down. High fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with healthy skin and hair, increased energy and lower weight. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.
Blood pressure: Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects.
Heart health: The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health. High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
Diabetes: Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides about 2 grams of fiber.
Skin: Collagen, the skins support system, is reliant on vitamin C as an essential nutrient that works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution and smoke, smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Constipation: Eating foods that are high in water content and fiber like tomatoes can help to keep you hydrated and your bowel movements regular. Fiber is essential for minimizing constipation and adding bulk to the stool.
Pregnancy: Adequate folic acid intake is essential for pregnant women to protect against neural tube defects in infants.
Depression: The folic acid in tomatoes may also help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.
Improves vision: Vitamin A, present in tomatoes, helps to improve your eyesight as well as prevent night-blindness and macular degeneration
Digestion: Eating tomatoes daily can keep your digestive system healthy as it prevents both, constipation and diarrhoea. It also prevents jaundice and effectively removes toxins from the body.
Abundant Source of Antioxidants: Tomato contains large amount of lycopene, an antioxidant that is highly effective in scavenging cancer causing free radicals. The lycopene in tomatoes defends against cancer and has been shown to be particularly effective in fighting prostate cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the stomach and rectum as well as pharynx and esophageal cancers. It also protects against breast cancer and cancer of the mouth.
Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals: A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant which prevents against cancer-causing free radicals from damaging the body’s systems. It also contains abundant vitamin A and potassium, as well as iron. Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining nerve health and iron is essential for maintaining normal blood health. Vitamin K, which is essential in blood clotting and controls bleeding, is also abundant in tomatoes.
Reduces Cholesterol: The lycopene in tomatoes prevents serum lipid oxidation, thus exerting a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. The regular consumption of tomatoes has been proven to decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. These lipids are the key culprits in cardiovascular diseases and lead to the deposition of fats in the blood vessels.
Counters the Effect of Cigarette Smoke: The two main components of tomatoes, coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, fight against nitrosamines which are produced in the body and are the main carcinogens found in cigarettes. The presence of vitamin A in such high quantities has also been shown to reduce the effects of carcinogens and can protect you against lung cancer.
Lowers Hypertension: Daily consumption of tomatoes reduces the risk of developing hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This is partially due to the impressive levels of potassium found in tomatoes.
Prevents Urinary Tract Infections: Tomato intake also reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections, as well as bladder cancer. This is because tomatoes are high in water content, which can stimulate urination.
Prevents Gallstones: Regular consumption of tomatoes can also provide relief from gallbladder disease such as gallstones.
Protect Against Thrombosis: Another study showed that drinking 8 ounces of tomato juice daily reduced platelet aggregation significantly. It’s important to drink low-sodium tomato juice if you are trying to protect against thrombosis (blood clots in the blood vessel) , as high sodium levels can cause negative effects for this type of disease.
Ward off Inflammation: A double blind study found that drinking a glass of tomato juice a day can reduce blood levels of TNF-alpha by 34 percent. TNF-alpha causes inflammation.
Bones Health: Tomatoes build strong bones.The vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes are both very good for strengthening and repairing bones.
Hair: Tomatoes will even make your hair look better.The vitamin A found in tomatoes works to make hair strong and shiny.
Chronic Pain: Tomatoes can reduce chronic pain. If you are dealing with mild to moderate chronic pain (such as from arthritis or back pain), tomatoes may be a pain-buster. Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are known anti-inflammatory agents.
Lose Weight: Tomatoes can help you lose weight. If you are on a sensible diet and exercise plan, build lots of tomatoes into your everyday eating. They make a great snack and can be used to “bulk up” salads, casseroles, sandwiches and other meals. Tomatoes contain lots of water and fiber which is helpful for reducing weight.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Tomato is safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts should be avoided until more is known.
Food Intolerance: Tomato intolerance can result from consuming small to large amounts of tomatoes, which can cause digestive trouble such as stomach pains and gas.
As you know that tomatoes are an ingredient in majority of the food items that we prepare. We bring to you some recipes where tomatoes are the key!
1) Fresh Tomato Salsa: Who does not like a good dip of salsa with your chips, nachos or virtually anything that is crunchy!
2) Tortellini and Tomato Salad: A preparation that looks as good as it tastes
3) Grilled Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette – A healthy way to eat!
4) Tomato-Herb Pasta: Turn this zesty side dish into a hearty entrée by adding cooked shrimp or chicken.