A-Z of super foods: Tomatoes

A-Z of super foods: Tomatoes

Fruit or vegetable? To-mah-toe or to-may-to?  Whatever you call them, here’s why tomatoes should be on your menu.

WHAT IS A TOMATO AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

The tomato is the fruit of the plant Solanum lycopersicum, originally from South America. This plant is from the nightshade family, as are potatoes, peppers and aubergines.

Tomatoes have been a popular food in the Mediterranean since the 16th century, but in northern Europe they were considered purely decorative until the 19th century. They were thought to be poisonous, due to an unfortunate reaction with the pewter plates used by the rich at the time. Acid foods such as tomatoes leached the lead out of the plates, and it took a long time for the true source of the problem to be found.

HOW DO I GET THE BEST FRESH TOMATOES?

Make friends with a keen gardener or a local farm! The taste of a fresh home-grown tomato is a real treat. Buy for flavour, not appearance.

WHAT DOES A TOMATO PROVIDE?

The main benefits are cancer-fighting antioxidants, especially lycopene and zea-xanthin. Lycopene can help to improve protection against ultraviolet rays, and thus skin cancer. Zea-xanthin protects against the onset of age-related macular degeneration.

Tomatoes are also full of vitamins A and C, B-complex, plus many important minerals and trace elements.

HOW DO I STORE THEM?

Step away from the fridge! Tomatoes lose flavour when chilled and are best appreciated at room temperature, and as fresh as possible. Out of season, enjoy the convenience of tinned or pureed tomatoes, which still pack that nutritional punch.

RECIPE IDEAS?

Fresh or canned, there’s so much you can do with a tomato. If you have fresh ones, they are delicious in salads or on their own. The tomato is of course a classic part of the great British breakfast – here is a nutritious version.

Tinned tomatoes are the ultimate versatile recipe base. They make an instant sauce for meat or vegetable dishes, are perfect in pasta bakes and are indispensable on a pizza.

Tasty, nutritious and good looking – enjoy your tomatoes!

 


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves boxercise, yoga, pilates, weight training and long distance running..

Comments

Emma C.
30 December 2015

Emma C.

I think that cooked tomatoes are also better for you than fresh tomatoes, which is great for me as I love them fried at breakfast with mushrooms and spinach.

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