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You Say Tomato…

The tomato is certainly one of the world's most widely enjoyed and nutritious vegetables, though technically a fruit. A member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, it is a perennial plant grown as an annual plant (typically at up to 1-3 metres tall) with bright and typically red fruits, from the pigment of its amazing carotcnoid lycopene.

Lycopene is one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, and it is found almost exclusively in tomatoes. As a helpful guideline, nearly all of the attention concerning carotenoids as cancer-fighters throughout the 1980s and early 90s centred on beta-carotene (there are more than 500 carotemaids found in plants).

Lycopene entered the spotlight in 1995 with published studies from Harvard University identifying a positive association between the intake of tomatoes and tomato-based foods and a diminished risk of prostate cancer in a group of 48,000 health professionals followed over a six-year period.

Laboratory studies in Israel also suggest that lycopene may protect against additional types of cancer. That said, generations will attest to the fact that the tomato has a lot more going for it. Though thought of and used more as a vegetable, the humble tomato has managed to find its way from treasured sauces and salads, into main courses and even desserts!

Used extensively in Asian, Mediterranean and N4iddle Eastern dishes, tomatoes-juiced, stewed or eaten whole-arc also low in calories but high in vitamin C and E. Yes, some tomato varieties can be exceptionally sweet. But to get a better sample of its incredible range, we will need to explore several categories, based mostly on sire and shape.

Globe tomatoes arc the usual tomatoes of commerce, while beefsteak tomatoes are large tomatoes often used in sandwiches. Then there are plum tomatoes or paste tomatoes, which are bred with a higher solid content for use in sauces and pastes; and cherry tomatoes - small, often sweet tomatoes, generally enjoyed whole in salads.

And that is not all. 'I'here is also the Big Boy (a very common garden cultivar in the United States), Brandywine (a pink beefsteak type), Early Girl (an early-maturing globe type), Roma VF (another popular plum tomato), Rutgers (an heirloom commercial variety), Santa EI (a closely guarded Chinese grape tomato cultivar popular in ITS supermarkets), and even a Sweet 100 (a vcn' prolific and yes, sweet cherw tomato), just to name a few more.

Regardless, a tomato will always be a favourite among both kids and adults. Packing a powerfully flavorful punch, a medium tomato (about 148g) for example has a total of just 0.5g fat, 5mg sodium, 7g total carbohydrates, lg of both dietary fibre and protein, and just 4g sugars. But it also boasts an added offering of essential potassium (350g), vitamin A, calcium and iron.

So, whether you prefer a rich pasta sauce, a hearty tomato based curry or a tang Bruschctta marinated in a wild mix of herbs and dressed in extra virgin olive oil, the tomato will always be a welcome addition to the family's daily menu.


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