Did you know that there are over one thousand different varieties of tomatoes? Originating in central and South America, tomatoes were introduced to Europe when Spanish conquistadors took their seeds back to Spain. Widely believed to be poisonous throughout Europe, Tomato plants were gown predominantly as decoration. Because of this, tomatoes did not gain popularity until the nineteenth century.
· Tomatoes are a low calorie food, with only 32 calories in an individual cooked tomato.
· Red tomatoes possess four times the amount of beta-carotene compared to green tomatoes.
· Tomatoes are an excellent source of carotenes, biotin, and vitamins C and K.
· They also vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folic acid and dietary fiber.
· The red carotene called lycopene, found in tomatoes, helps protect the body against breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancers.
· Tomatoes have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and muscular degeneration.
· Lycopene in tomatoes helps prevent diseases by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals, which can slow and shrink tumor growth.
Although tomatoes are technically considered a fruit, they are commonly intermixed with vegetables as they lack the sweet taste associated with fruits. They work well mixed in with a salad, roasted on low heat, or even as a stand-alone snack. One of our favorite tomato recipes is Caprese Salad, which celebrates the taste of the tomato with complementing basil and mozzarella. A perfect dish with summer just around the corner.