The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a fruit from the nightshade family native to South America. Despite botanically being a fruit, it’s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable. So if someone is debating whether it is a fruit or vegetable, they can be correct on either answer in a sort.
The tomato has been called many things throughout history: Peruvian apple, love apple, and even, by Americans at least, a vegetable. Today, however, this lovely fruit is fast becoming known as Superfood!
While not able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, this super hero of the nutrition world is able to do some pretty amazing things. For example, some studies show the tomato may help decrease the risk of prostate cancer, as well as breast, lung and stomach cancers. And the Herald Sun reported in 2003 that the yellow jelly around the seeds have yet another benefit: They may stop blood cells from clumping together, which sometimes leads to strokes and heart attacks.
What is it about this little red fruit that makes it so amazing? Lycopene.
Okay, so the word lycopene doesn’t sound very appetizing, but this powerful antioxidant is the chemical in tomatoes that not only is responsible for it’s red color, but also responsible for its disease-fighting powers.
Just ask an Italian. Italian cooking relies very heavily on tomatoes and tomato products. And, some studies have suggested that this heavy intake of tomatoes by Italians has resulted in a lowering of cancer of the digestive tract.
Now, you’re probably thinking you have to consume tons and tons of fresh tomatoes to enjoy any health benefits. Not true. In one research study it was reported that people who ate tomatoes at least every other day had greater lung capacity. And, the tomatoes don’t even have to be fresh! Again, research shows that the lycopene in tomatoes is more easily absorbed by the body if processed into ketchup, sauce and paste. So, not only are tomatoes a superfood, they’re an easy superfood to include in your diet.
Of course, fresh tomatoes are still beneficial, and packed with wonderful nutrients (not to mention delicious). Just remember the one rule of fresh tomatoes: don’t put them in the refrigerator. The refrigerator destroys not only the flavor, it also destroys the nutrients.
So, go ahead, do something good for your health tonight. Have a tomato.