The tomato plant (botanical name Solanum lycopersicum) is a member of the nightshade family. Usually, plants of this species grow to a height of anything between one and three meters (3 to 10 feet) and have very delicate stem that generally spread out over the ground as well as climbs like vines on other nearby plants. Tomato is a perennial plant in its place of origin, but is generally cultivated outdoors as annual plant in places having temperate climatic conditions.
It is thought that the existing kind of tomato has originated from a species whose fruits were roughly the size of marbles and this species actually grew several thousand years back. In effect, tomato is indigenous to South America's Andean region and there is evidence that this species was cultivated in Peru as early as the 16th century when the Spanish conquered the region. Prior to the end of the 16th century, people in England as well as the Netherlands were consuming as well as taking delight in tomato. While the English nick named the fruit as ‘love apple', romancers in England portrayed tomato in the form of a symbol of fondness or love. According to the cultivators as well as its usage, tomato is considered to be a vegetable, while in terms of botany, tomato is regarded as a fruit. Moreover, going by botany, tomato may be categorized as a berry, as it is yielding and encloses one or several seeds, which are not stones. Tomato is regarded to be an important fruit, which is a good source of citric acid and is classified in the same group that also includes oranges and grapefruit. In addition to citric acid, tomato also contains some amount of oxalic acid.
The utmost benefits of tomatoes can be obtained when they are mixed with proteins. You may use tomatoes in the form of fruits as well as in vegetable salads. When tomatoes are used in beverages, they provide a calming and rejuvenating feeling and are particularly wonderful in the form of flavoring for soups. In addition, tomatoes may be used in foods to provide color as well as to make green salads additionally tempting. It is advisable that you need to use tomato juice soon after it has been extracted from tomato or soon after the can containing the juice is opened. In case canned tomato juice is opened and allowed to remain in the same way, it will lose a great deal of its mineral worth, since it oxidizes very rapidly.
In addition, tomatoes should also be collected when they are ripe, since the acids of the green tomatoes are extremely harmful for the body and have a negative reaction on the kidneys. Several varieties of tomatoes that are cultivated in the present times are grown in hothouses and are collected when they are still unripe and green. These unripe tomatoes eventually ripen while being transported to the markets or during the period when they are in cold storage plants, which are constructed for this purpose. When the seeds or the internal parts of the tomatoes remain green, while the exterior is red, it is a sign of the fact that the fruit has been picked prematurely.
It may be mentioned that tomato basically does not form acid. Although it encloses sufficient amount of citric acid, it is actually alkaline forming when it gets into our bloodstream. Tomato enhances the alkalinity of the blood and, thereby, facilitates in removing toxins, particularly uric acid, from the system. Tomatoes are excellent in the form of a liver cleanser, particularly when they are used in conjugation with juices of green vegetables.
In several European clinics or sanatoriums, tomatoes are employed in the form of a poultice for treating several health conditions. Some people have a wrong belief that tomatoes are detrimental for people who have been enduring gout and rheumatism. In effect, individuals who are suffering from these two conditions ought to blend tomato juice with juices of other green vegetables with a view to avert any type of possible potent reaction. Every time when it is found that the blood is sluggish in any area of the body, applying a tomato poultice is an excellent treatment for easing the blood stagnation. Applying a tomato poultice works as a suspending agent or in the form of a solvent.
Tomatoes are extremely rich in vitamin content. As aforementioned, tomatoes are excellent in the form of blood purifier and are very good in elimination diets. Nevertheless, they ought not to be employed regularly. It may be noted that tomato juice may also be employed in convalescent diets, in conjugation with juices of other raw vegetables, for instance, parsley, celery, carrot and beet juice.
Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene, which belongs to the carotenoid family and is a pigment that is responsible for the red color of the vegetable/ fruit. In addition, lycopene is a main contributor to the tomatoes' power to promote health. In effect, lycopene has shown a variety of exceptional as well as individual biological characteristics that have always fascinated scientists. A number of researchers have started believing that lycopene could be a very potent antioxidant, somewhat similar to beta-carotene. It has been proved that lycopene eliminates the free radical singlet oxygen, an especially toxic form of oxygen extremely proficiently. In addition, lycopene also has the capacity to scavenge a number of free radicals.
Findings of several researches have begun to divulge that individuals who have consumed excessive amounts of tomatoes faced far little risks of death from all types of cancers in comparison to those who consumed very little or no tomatoes at all. Several other researches have repeated the positive findings regarding the consequences of consuming tomatoes.
Lycopene found in tomatoes does not only help to alleviate cancer. In effect, this member of the carotenoid family is a crucial part of the antioxidant protection system in our skin. On its own as well as in conjunction with additional nutrients, dietary lycopene may increase the skin's sun protection factor (SPF). Precisely speaking, when you consume tomatoes, you actually augment the ability of your skin to endure the battering from the harmful rays of the sun. Tomatoes work in a manner akin to an internal sun block.
In addition, lycopene also has the ability to obliquely lower the risk for macular degeneration related to age by means of ‘releasing' lutein oxidation to enable transportation of lutein to the macula in its un-oxidized and defensive form.
It may be noted that lycopene is rarely present in foods, and tomatoes are among just the few foods that enclose this potent antioxidant. In fact, the red watermelon is one more wonderful natural source of lycopene. According to some sources, lycopene is an extremely intense and bio-available source of the nutrient, which is present in more amounts in red watermelon compared to tomatoes. In fact, consuming watermelon certainly boosts the amount of lycopene in the blood more in comparison to tomatoes.
Although, in recent times, lycopene has drawn plenty of attention, tomatoes enclose rich amounts of a range of nourishments that appear to work in synergy to support health as well as energy. The good thing about the tomato is that while it contains low calorie content, it is high in fiber and potassium. In addition to having rich contents of lycopene, tomatoes are also an excellent natural resource of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, phytuene/ phytofluene, lutein/ zeaxanthin as well as a variety of polyphenols. Tomatoes also enclose a little amount of B vitamins, including vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, thiamine and niacin. In addition, they contain some amount of vitamin E, folate, manganese, magnesium and zinc.
Tomatoes and cancer: Many of the very thrilling researches undertaken on tomatoes have concentrated on the fruit/ vegetable's competency to provide protection against cancer, particularly prostate cancer.
Tomatoes do not only protect us from prostate cancer. In effect, an increasing amount of evidences hint that to some extent, lycopene offers protection from other forms of cancers too - such as, digestive tract, breast, bladder, cervix and lung cancer.
It appears that lycopene lowers the risk of cancer in various different manners. In the form of a potent antioxidant, lycopene assists in blocking the constant degenerative effects of the harmful free radicals inside the body. Lycopene is particularly effectual in this purpose when there is presence of adequate vitamin E. In effect, lycopene also appears to obstruct the growth aspects that encourage the growth as well as proliferation of cancer cells. And lastly, it also appears that lycopene also encourages the body to increase a further effectual immune protection against cancer.
Since lycopene is soluble in fat, it requires some amount of dietary fat to transport this potent antioxidant through the bloodstream. However, it needs to be mentioned that consuming a whole, fresh tomato out of your hand is not a very good source of this nourishment - lycopene. The most effective foods based on tomato that appear to provide maximum protection against cancer are prepared with some amount of oil at all times. A salad prepared with tomato with added virgin olive oil is a food that genuinely promotes health. It may be noted that the greenish hue of olive oil signifies the existence of polyphenols. When these polyphenols contained by virgin olive oil are blended with the potent nourishments present in tomatoes, it gives spaghetti sauce a healthy flavour to treat on. It may also be used in soups based on tomatoes for the same purpose.
Tomatoes excellent for the heart: Besides being an effective food for protection against cancer, there is sufficient evidence that consuming tomatoes also has a crucial role in lowering the risk of cardiovascular ailments. Lycopene's antioxidant function in conjugation with other potent antioxidants present in tomatoes, for instance beta-carotene and vitamin C, work within the body to combat the harmful free radicals that might otherwise harm the cells as well as cell membranes. The protection of the cells as well as their membranes lowers the risks of inflammation and, hence, the advancement as well as acuteness of atherosclerosis. In fact, lycopene present in tomatoes has been found to be very effectual in providing protection against heart attacks.
Healthy skin: When the tomato plants are growing outdoors in the wild, they need to guard themselves against any possible attack. In fact, these plants are under continuous assault from the ultraviolet rays (UV rays), predators as well as environmental pollution. Hence, it is very important that these plants should have a first, strong line of protection. In the case of humans as well as other living things, the skin is the first line of defense. Be it the skin or peel of an apple, the covering of a grape, or the outer layer of an orange, this portion of the fruit possesses wonderful antioxidant competence that allows it to endure the attacks of nature.
For example, 100 grams of fresh apple (peels included) enclose approximately 142 mg of flavonoids. On the other hand an equal amount of apples without their skin or peel enclose just 97 mg of flavonoids. A very common flavonoid known as quercetin which has anti-inflammatory attributes is only present in the peel of the apples and not in the fruit's flesh. In other words, the antioxidant actions of 100 grams of apples sans its skin or peel are about 55 per cent of the actions of 100 grams of apples having its skin. More precisely, apples without their peel are just about 50 per cent as potent as those with their skin. Similarly, the paper-thin brown hued skins on peanuts as well as almonds are packed with a range of bioactive polyphenols.
Before concluding, it is advisable that you consume the right fruits and vegetables that have their skin/ peel or rind on. In fact, the skin is also the place where the detrimental pesticides and latently harmful bacteria may be found. Therefore, it is essential to meticulously wash the fruits and vegetables prior to eating them raw. At the same time, do not forget that while drinking juices of vegetables and fruits, it is important to choose the ones with sediments at the bottom. These sediments actually contain portions of the skin and pulp of the vegetables and fruits and they are all vital sources of antioxidants.