Seeds of Wisdom - Tomatoes

Happy Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! It’s that time of year – savor the abundance of those bright, juicy tomatoes.

The tomato species originated in parts of South America - Colombia and Ecuador. However, historical research shows that tomato cultivation first started in Mexico. In fact, the Aztec civilizations were responsible for giving the fruit its name, thanks to their word “tomatl” for “the swelling fruit”. Seeds were brought to Europe by the explorers and brought north to Central and North America by Spanish colonizers. They’re now commonly known as an essential ingredient in dishes in the Mediterranean region but have also become a staple produce across the world.

Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow and are a fun crop to experiment with. Try a different variety! They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors – red, orange, yellow, green and purple!

Tomatoes are a heavily sprayed crop, so if you don’t have access to homegrown organic tomatoes make sure you purchase organic over non-organic tomatoes as much as you can. In addition, everyone complains about the lack of flavor in store bought tomatoes. Well, this lack of flavor is due to tomatoes not being allowed to ripen on the vine. They’re harvested when green, shipped to the location they’ll be sold, and right before being put in stores they’re sprayed with an artificial ethylene gas to force on an artificial ripening and reddening of the tomato. Because the fruit couldn’t develop its nutrients and flavor the way nature intended, they’re tasteless. Yet another reason to grow your own tomatoes.

Tomatoes are great sources of copper, fiber, the prized antioxidant lycopene, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, K and B vitamins: B6, folate and thiamine. Tomatoes are extremely high in vitamin C, containing around 40% of the recommended daily amount from just one tomato, offering significant support to the immune system, skin health, and much more.

The carotenoid, lycopene, serves as a heart disease and cancer fighting antioxidant in the body. Research shows that lycopene can be used to combat breast, colon and prostate cancer especially. The best source of lycopene is the skin of the tomato, and the reddest tomato contains the highest amount of lycopene.

The lycopene in tomatoes also benefits eye health by fighting off free radicals that would otherwise create cataracts and impair eye functions. Additionally, Tomatoes contain a good amount of beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A, an antioxidant that supports eye health and contributes to prevention of vision issues.

The fiber and water content in tomatoes greatly contributes to better bowel movements

Tomatoes contain significant levels of potassium, which helps eliminate hypertension, promote better circulation of the blood, and prevent heart disease in general. The antioxidant chlorogenic acid also contributes to ideal blood pressure levels.
Tomato juice is commonly used in skin products, especially for anti-aging. It is also useful for sunburns and apparently in deodorants for bodies that sweat excessively. Studies have shown that consuming these fruits along with olive oil can reduce the risk of getting sunburns, thanks again to their dose of lycopene.

It is important to note that tomatoes aren’t a superfood for everyone. Folks with allergies to latex or grass pollen might have issues with tomatoes as well. For some, tomatoes can be too acidic which could lead to indigestion or acid reflux. They are also a member of the nightshade family, which could result in issues for someone with an autoimmune disease or other chronic inflammation issues.

For some tasty recipes from your local community gardeners, like Roasted Tomato Sauce and Green Tomato Pie, get our cookbook Sharing the Bounty!

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  1. Organic Facts - 11 Impressive Benefits of Tomatoes by Meenakshi Nagdeve
  2. Health - 7 Health Benefits of Tomatoes by Cynthia Sass
  3. Healthline - Tomatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits by Adda Bjarnadottir
  4. Natural Food Series - 11 Amazing Health Benefits of Tomatoes by Brandi Marcene
  5. The World's Healthiest Foods - Tomatoes

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