Feb 26, 2013

Things You Need to Know About Tomatoes


ripe tomatoes

Tomatoes have just grown in my garden by default. I say by default because the plant just grew out of the vegetable peelings I threw in my compost pit. And it is now yielding so many fruits that the plant is weighed down. If not for the moringa tree beside it which served as a pole of support, it would have toppled down completely.
Tomatoes are some of the most versatile foods in the kitchen. Whether chopped fresh and tossed into salads, dropped whole into stews or simmered long into sauces, tomatoes add a tangy twist to dishes. Here are some interesting facts on tomatoes.

Health Facts
It is interesting to note that the more absorbable form of lycopene (tetra-cis-lycopene) is more abundant in orange or yellowish-colored tomatoes than it is in deep red ones.
Whether fresh or cooked, tomato intake is linked to good heart health, lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, lower total cholesterol levels and lower risks for atherosclerosis.
Tomatoes are excellent sources of Vitamin C and beta-carotene, good sources of manganese and Vitamin E and are a significant source of phytonutrients or antioxidants.
Tomatoes have shown anti-cancirconegic properties against cancers of the prostate, lung (the non-small-cell type), breast and pancreas.
A tomato-rich diet is also associated with decreased risks for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Tomato juice is an especially concentrated super drink that you may want to consume regularly. Europeans are regular tomato juice drinkers.

Packaging Warning
Tomatoes should not be canned as the acids react with metals. To prevent this reaction, cans are coated with BPA prior to canning tomatoes. Unfortunately, BPA is not healthy either and is associated with hormonal disruption. It is therefore not wise to buy canned tomato products such as canned tomato sauce, canned tomato paste and even canned spaghetti sauce. To be safe, buy tomato products in either glass jars or tetra pak. (I’m not sure, though about tomato products in plastic pouches.) Although tetra pak is lined with aluminum, the aluminum does not directly come into contact with the tomato acids as there is a polyethylene lining.

Cooking Tips
Because tomatoes are acidic, experts recommend the use of non-aluminum cookware. You can use earthenware, stoneware, stainless steel pots, ceramic ware and pyrex glassware. The acids in tomatoes react with aluminum and vice versa. Aluminum makes the tomatoes somewhat bitter while tomatoes can discolor and even pit the aluminum cookware.
If you have put in too many tomatoes, fret not. To balance out the sourness, you can add a little of any of these: grated carrots, sugar, salt or baking soda.

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