History of Tomatoes
Native to the western regions of South America, but first cultivated in Mexico, it wasn’t until the 1500’s that Spanish explorers introduced tomatoes to European populations, and even then, they were often seen as unfit to eat.
Today tomatoes are enjoyed worldwide at roughly 130 million tons per year. Botanically speaking, the tomato is both fruit and berry, but culinarily speaking, tomatoes are vegetables due to their cooking methods. The tomato comes in hundreds of varieties that vary in shape, size and color.
Nutrients in Tomatoes
Although nutrient levels will vary among varieties, tomatoes in general are widely known for their antioxidant content, including their rich concentration of lycopene. Tomatoes have been linked to heart health, bone health and even to lessening the risk of some cancers, including prostate cancer and possibly breast cancer.
Research also has shown that tomatoes may help to lower cholesterol and possibly reduce the risk of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, tomatoes are a great sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin E, and they are off the chart in regards to phytonutrient content. Research has shown that lycopene contents are higher when the whole tomato is used, so it makes sense to try to develop recipes that utilize the entire tomato.
Choosing the “Right” Tomatoes
Although tomatoes are available year-round across the U.S., some of the most delicious tomato flavors come from fresh tomatoes that have been planted in late spring or early summer and ripen from July through September. Choose tomatoes that have rich colors – from deep reds to vibrant oranges/tangerines, brilliant yellows and rich purples, they all provide outstanding nutrient benefits. Tomatoes should be well shaped and smooth skinned with no wrinkles, cracks, bruises or soft spots.
Cooking with Tomatoes
It is also a good idea to avoid using aluminum cookware when cooking tomatoes. The high acid content of the tomatoes could interact with the metal in the cookware and thereby add aluminum to your food, which is not only unpleasant in taste, but could be potentially hazardous to your health.
Salsa Fresca Recipe
Adding more vitamin-rich vegetables to your diet is easier than you might think.
Tomatoes and salsa fresca are synonymous by some individuals. This quick and easy salsa fresca can be served make-your-own-taco-bar style for Cinco de Mayo, with GMO- and grain-free tortilla chips for a healthy and festive addition to your summer cookout or super bowl party, and as a topping for grilled lean meats.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy tomatoes and salsa fresca? Share in the comments below!
Tomatoes. World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44.
Marz, Russell B. 1999. Medical nutrition from Marz: (a textbook in clinical nutrition). Portland, Or: Omni-Press.
Gaby, Alan. 2011. Nutritional medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.