One of the leading vegetable crops in the world is none other than Tomatoes. Though technically tomato is considered as a fruit, tomato is bound to find a place in every kitchen, primarily for its low calorie content, rich vitamins and other healthful substances. The tomato can be either consumed as raw vegetable or can be cooked into delicious dishes.
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, similar to those of potatoes, eggplants and sweet peppers. Originated in the Central part of America in ancient days, this delicious vegetable is spread to other parts of the world through the Spanish and now, tomato is consumed worldwide.
Earlier in the 16th century, tomatoes were called as “love apples” as they were considered to be a type of berry. Depending upon the region where they are grown and ripened, the flavor of the tomatoes varies.
Tomato is found to be a very useful source for Vitamin C, beta carotene, folate as well as potassium. Also, tomato is discovered to be a very good source for lycopene, an antioxidant that is responsible for protecting against some types of cancers. Lycopene is available in the skin part of tomato. The best way to get lycopene is through tomatoes in their processed form – such as tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, and even tomato ketchup.
A number of research studies on cancer and its treatment recommend the consumption of tomato as the best means to fight various types of cancers. Tomato is one vegetable that is rich in antioxidant nutrients that protect against cancer-causing cell damage that occurs when the body uses oxygen.
One medium-sized ripe tomato contains only 26 calories, together with 23 micrograms of vitamin C and 20 mcg of folate. Most of the vitamin C is concentrated in the jellylike substance that encases the seeds. In fact, this jellylike substance around the seeds is actually high in salicylates, which have an anti-clotting effect on the blood. This may be partially responsible for tomatoe’s protection against heart diseases.
The calorie content of tomato varies depends upon the commercial preparation of tomatoes and addition of other ingredients. It has been found that a half-cup of canned tomatoes contains only 23 calories. On the other hand, tomato paste is a concentrated source of nutrients. About 100 ml of concentrated tomato paste contains about 90 calories, 50 micrograms of Vitamin C, together with good amount of beta carotene, B-group vitamins and about 1,100 micrograms of potassium.