With so many varieties, colors, textures and tastes, the possibilities for tomato consumption are endless. But did you know that tomatoes were once feared to be poisonous? In fact, in Colonial times the thought was that if you ate a tomato, its "poison would turn your blood into acid"? Tomatoes didn't become a diet staple in Europe until the mid 16th century and according to the California Growers Association, Americans wouldn't eat tomatoes until the 1820's.
Tomatoes are not from Italy! Who knew? They are originally from South America and can be traced back to being cultivated by the Aztecs and the Incas as early as 700 A.D. But the Italians did increase the tomato's popularity through their creation of the pizza and it's prime ingredient, tomato sauce. Europeans continue to celebrate the tomato with Spain hosting, Tomatina, the world's largest tomato fight every year: an annual tradition where literally thousands of tomatoes are flung.
Most people know that tomatoes are high in vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and potassium, and that their biggest claim to fame is their copious amounts of Lycopene, a proven cancer preventative. But did you know that tomatoes are your skin's best friend too? Or at least should be.
Tomatoes are full of antioxidants which are powerful allies in the flight against aging skin. A recent study showed that volunteers who ate tomatoes exhibited increased levels of sun protection and higher levels of procollagen (a protein that helps maintain skin structure). Studies have also shown that the lycopene in tomatoes neutralizes free radicals that are formed when UV radiation hits the skin. It's these free radicals that have been linked to cancer and the negative effects of aging. So pretty soon you may find tomoatoes not only in the produce section but in the comestics section too.
Tomatoes seem so unassuming, yet under that thin red coat is a mighty powerful food.
Author: Lillie Lancaster