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Health Benefits of Tomatoes

These red, yellow and green bulbs are known for their great taste and nutritional content. It is believed that tomatoes were first cultivated in Peru and at the time, people only had small-sized tomatoes. The colonization of Central and South America by Spanish invaders helped the spread of tomatoes in Europe. Among Europeans, Italian people deeply incorporated tomatoes into their cuisine. Tomato is one of nightshade plants and consequently, it has poisonous leaves; but the fruit itself is very nutritious and perfectly safe to eat. Accidental ingestion of tomato leaves may cause dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting and even death.

There have been some controversies about the real identity of fruit. Some call it fruits, while others say that it is actually a vegetable. In botanical point of view, tomato is a berry, which is a subset of fruit, but its content is more similar to vegetables. Put simply, tomato is essentially a fruit with vegetables inside. People have performed various cross-pollinations on tomatoes and there are thousands of tomato cultivars. They vary in flavour, color and size. The elongated plum-shaped tomatoes are known as excellent ingredient for various sauces, while red, round-shaped variant is appropriate for fresh consumption. Tomatoes are considered as one of superfoods with their rich nutritional content.

We should be aware that tomatoes don’t grow on any soil. When the temperature, humidity and soil type are inappropriate, farmers may use chemical fertilizers to boost growth. Tomatoes could be shipped when they are still green and before being sold, they would be treated with gas to make the look bright red and juicy. We should be aware that un-organic tomatoes that don’t get ripened on the plants, would be lower in minerals and vitamins, while higher in sodium. These tomatoes could be sold in grocery stores and used by restaurants. In general, we should choose locally grown tomatoes that are grown organically. Alternatively, we could grow our own tomatoes if we use them a lot. However, tomato plants are not among the prettiest, so we should consider planting them in an enclosed area of our backyard.

Tomatoes contain various valuable nutrients, especially lycopene. It is able to prevent the progression of cancer due to its strong anti-oxidative property. By consuming plenty of antioxidants, we are able to slow down or stop the rate of damage caused by free radical exposure. In fact, our body produces free radicals during the metabolism process and they should be neutralized with enough antioxidants. Free radicals are highly reactive and they could bind on to the nearest molecules in our body cells. It means that healthy cells can progressively be damaged. Not enough antioxidants and too many free radicals could cause some cells to die prematurely or behave abnormally. As an example, they could start to divide and grow very rapidly, which is the beginning of tumor or cancer. Other nutrients found in tomatoes are lutein, beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C and vitamin A. They are also rich in potassium.

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