Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays! Today we’re going to be looking at tomatoes scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum. Tomatoes originated in South America and can now be found all over the world. It is the berry of a plant that comes from the Nightshade family that belong to a scientific family of plants called Solanaceae .
As a member of the nightshade family, tomatoes contain glycoalkaloids, toxic substances that act like a natural pesticides or fungicides in the plant. While glycoalkaloids are poisonous to humans, their levels are quite low in tomatoes making them safe to consume according to Food Safety Watch .
The tomato is technically a fruit but it is also categorised as a vegetable. Tomatoes are juicy, soft and have many seeds. They vary in shape, size , colour, texture and flavour. The most common colour is red but it can also be yellow, orange or green.
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, biotin and molybdenum. They are also a good source of iron, zinc, potassium, copper, manganese, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, niacin, folate and phosphorus just to name a few.
Tomatoes have large amounts of the antioxidant known as lycopene which some studies revealed was good at fighting and preventing cancer associated with the prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon and pancreas.
According to some of the studies done here are some of the health benefits of including tomatoes in your diet:
- Protects the skin against sun damage
- Prevent kidney stones and gallstones
- Counters the effect of cigarette smoke
- Prevents urinary tract infections
- Support a healthy pregnancy
- Regulate blood pressure
- Cancer prevention
- Reduces cholesterol
- Protects the heart
- Strong and shiny hair
- Stronger bones
- Regulate blood sugar
- Help with constipation
- Support vision health
- Reduce chronic pain
- Aid in depression
Some Possible Risks:
- Chemical-based tomato farming involves spraying tomatoes with large quantities of pesticides and insecticides. Hence, organically grown tomatoes are recommended to reduce pesticide exposure.
- Tomatoes are high in potassium and should be consumed in moderation especially when taking beta-blockers. Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional.
- Persons who suffer from gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation. However, reactions vary from person to person.
- Although tomato allergy is rare, they can cause allergic reactions in people allergic to grass pollen causing itching in the mouth, scratchy throat or swelling of the mouth or throat. This condition is called pollen-food allergy syndrome or oral-allergy syndrome .
How to use tomatoes:
- Tomatoes should always be washed before eating.
- Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked.
There are simple and easy ways to add more tomatoes to your diet. Add a few slices to your sandwiches, add them to your salad, make a tomato soup, make guacamole, drink it in a vegetable juice, chop them up and add them to your egg omelet. Be creative.
Remember, not because something is reported as good for you means you should abuse it – so use in moderation. Always consult your doctor.
Being healthy is a lifestyle and it requires discipline and some research from time to time. I am working on improving my health one day at a time.
It is your health, your body and your life so take care of it. I believe in the saying, “prevention is better than the cure” and this is why I started Health and Wellness Fridays to bring to your attention foods that we sometimes overlook and take for granted.
Thanks for stopping by. See you next week. 🙂