Known to have originated in the Andes mountains of South America, tomato ‘tamatar’, today is one of the most important vegetable and accompaniment in todays culinary art. Besides its culinary uses, tomatoes also have some potentially amazing health benefits, some of which are mentioned in this article.
Surprisingly, up until 1820’s, a few cultures, especially in North Americas, considered tomatoes to be poisonous and not fit for human consumption. The myth is said to have been busted by one Colonel Johnson who is said to have consumed a full pale of tomatoes, in full public scrutiny, without suffering any ill effects and living to tell the tale.
Tomato, commonly known as ‘tamatar’ in Hindi is a medium-sized vegetable. There are several different varieties of tomatoes available. They vary in shape, size, and colour. They can be red, yellow, orange, green, pink, brown, purple, or black in colour. Tamatar internally has fleshy internal segments with tiny, slippery seeds. Seeds are surrounded by a watery matrix.
Nutritional facts of Tomato
As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of raw sliced tomatoes weighing approximately 180 gm contains 7.9 mcg of vitamin K, 237 mg of potassium, 0.15 mg of manganese, 24 mg of phosphorus, 11 mg of magnesium, 0.3 mg of iron, and 0.17 mg of zinc.
Potential Health Benefits of tomatoes
1/5. Prevents Cancer
1. The lycopene content of tomatoes is responsible for its anti-cancer properties. Lycopene neutralises the free radicals that are produced in our bodies. High intake of lycopene is associated with a reduced risk of colon, lung, cervical, and oral cancers. Lycopene prevents the further growth of cancer cells.
2. Adiponectin, another compound of tomatoes helps fight cancer.
3. Intake of tomato helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
4. The high fibre content of beta-carotene present in tomatoes helps lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
2/5. Promotes cardiovascular health
1. The folate, beta-carotene, and flavonoids content are beneficial for cardiovascular health.
2. The lycopene, vitamin C, and potassium content in tomatoes help in reducing blood pressure.
3. The vitamin A, B, and potassium content found in tomatoes helps in reducing cholesterol levels and prevents heart-related diseases.
4. The potassium content also helps in controlling heart rate.
3/5. Counter the effects Of Cigarette smoke
The vitamin C content of tomato counteracts the excessive production of free radicals produced by smoking.
4/5. Strengthen bones
1. The vitamin C content of tomatoes is helpful for bone formation and the synthesis of connective tissue. The lack of vitamin C leads to underdeveloped bones.
2. Lutein in tomatoes helps promote collagen formation, which boosts bone health.
3. Vitamin K present in tomato plays a crucial role in bone metabolism. It accelerates bone mineral density, thereby decreasing the likelihood of fractures.
4. Tomatoes are a rich source of calcium which enhances bone formation and bone strength.
5/5. Other possible Benefits
Tomato produces several health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces a few more such as aids weight loss, improves skin and hair health, beneficial during pregnancy, improves vision, enhances digestive health, prevents urinary stone formation, prevents gallstones, enhances immunity, reduces inflammation, boosts men’s health, enhances brain power, promotes liver health, controls blood sugar, activates digestion, helps to burn fat, prevents eye diseases, prevents blood clots, prevents constipation and prevents early ageing.
Ancient Chinese medicine suggests tomatoes to balance the summer heat whereas Ayurveda ‘the traditional Indian medicine science’ feels tomato can increase heat and toxic build up. My experience says tomato chutney, consumed in right quantity, not only enhances taste and saliva production but also calms the system down.
How to incorporate tomatoes into the diet?
Tomatoes can be consumed fresh, raw, or cooked. Tamatar forms a common ingredient of mostly all d curries and gravies. They can be incorporated into the diet in several ways, some of them are as follows…
- As chutney.
- As tomato soup.
- In Indian curries.
- Added to omelet.
- Fresh tomato juice.
- Prepare tomato salsa.
How to prepare Fresh Tomato Salsa?
Take 2 to 3 fresh, medium-sized tomatoes, ½ red onion, and 2 chilies. Cut all of them into small pieces.
Place all the ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are finely diced.
Place the diced ingredients into a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper for taste. Incase the salsa turns out to be too spicy, add some chopped tomato.
Add a pinch of dried oregano and ground cumin for taste.