Where do tomatoes come from? Now there’s a question we bet you never thought you’d ask. The tomato, or solanum lycopersicum, is a red/orange fruit which originated in South America and is thought to have been first used as a food by indigenous people in Mexico (according to the Encyclopedia of Life). Despite being a fruit, tomatoes are often used as a vegetable in side dishes and savory meals, and can also be eaten raw in salads or drinks. Present day, tomatoes are commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine but most notably in Italian and Spanish dishes - with around 7500 varieties being grown worldwide.
Without the scientific and historical jargon, essentially the Spanish invaded western South America, brought home these weird little red fruits they found and turned them into tapas before sharing them with their Italian neighbours, who turned them into pizzas and pasta sauce. I’m sure we speak for the majority when we say a big thank you for creating some of the best foods in the world!
As well as being pretty tasty, tomatoes have some pretty great health benefits to.
As found on Medical News Today, one cup of chopped raw tomatoes contains:
Vitamin C 24.7mg
Vitamin A 1499iu
The Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention recently published research which suggests that cooking tomatoes can help to increase the availability of key nutrients such as lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. To maximise the nutrient intake, it is recommended to choose tomatoes with a rich, vibrant colour, smooth skin and no bruises or blemishes and store them at room temperature instead of in the fridge.
Why are tomatoes good for me?
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and other antioxidants which prevent the formation of free radicals; a known cause of cancer. Vitamin C is also an important factor in the production of collagen which maintains youthful-looking and blemish-free skin. In short, tomatoes are great for saving you money on facials and spa treatments. A little bit of vitamin C works wonders for unhealthy skin!
Also present in tomatoes is potassium, which can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure due to its artery-widening effects. This, along with fiber, folate and choline (also present in tomatoes) can support a healthy heart and prevent the risks of heart attacks and strokes, as well as reducing the production of kidney stones. Fiber is also helpful in lowering blood glucose levels in people who suffer from type 1 diabetes, improving blood sugar and insulin levels in those with type 2 diabetes. Even if you feel that none of these points apply to you, a tomato a day could help to keep the doctor away in years to come (N.B. apples are still great too).
How can I include more tomatoes in my diet?
World Health Foods recommend consuming a minimum of ½ cup of fruit and vegetables from the red/purple subgroup per day. As tomatoes fall into this category, here are several simple ideas to incorporate more tomatoes and the benefits they provide into your diet:
One of our favourite tomato-based dishes here at Fantastico, is Spaghetti Marinara al Cartoccio - Fish, calamari, prawns, scallops & mussels with napoletana sauce baked & served in a 'cartouche'.
Now that you’re all clued up on the miracle workers that are tomatoes, we’re sure you’re racing to the kitchen to make some delicious tomatoey goodness or why not call us on (08) 9388 3404 to make a reservation. Just remember to continue to eat a variety of other fruits and veggies to maintain a balanced diet. Buon appetito!