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The tomato originated in the Andes Mountains in South America and was first domesticated in Mexico by the Aztec people. Over the years its popularity has steadily grown and now it is the second most consumed vegetable in North America. Tomatoes not only taste good but are also very good for health.
Some of the health benefits of tomato consumption are:
The tomato is a treasure of nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, and more. Tomatoes contribute more nutrients to the diet than any other fruit or vegetable.
Vitamin C has long been known to prevent scurvy – a condition that is characterized by bleeding gums and soreness in the joints. People who experience easy bruising may want to try including more tomatoes in their diet. Vitamin C is also known to function as an antioxidant in the human body. Studies have shown that it may prevent certain degenerative diseases and common colds.
Vitamin C is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. This anti-inflammatory activity reduces the development of asthma symptoms. A large preliminary study has shown that young children with asthma experience significantly less wheezing if they eat a diet rich in tomatoes.
Vitamin A is important for immune functions, maintenance of the skin, and tissue lining and vision.
Potassium is an essential nutrient that is important for normal health maintenance and growth. It is required for the movement of nutrients across the cells in the body. A deficiency of potassium would lead to muscle weakness, apathy, cramps, and more.
Eating a diet containing folic acid, beta-carotene, and vitamin C effectively lowers homocysteine levels. As tomatoes contain all three of these nutrients, they are especially recommended for people with high homocysteine levels.
Tomatoes have a characteristic red color. This is due to the presence of lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid and one of the most powerful antioxidants amongst its kind.
Antioxidants help to ward off the damaging effects of free radicals that result in heart disease. They can also attack and intercept foreign material that can lead to cancers and other chronic diseases. Growing scientific evidence associates high intake of lycopene-rich tomato products with reduced risk of cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, cervix, and digestive tract.
Lycopene also may help to prevent macular degenerative disease which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of sixty-five.
To sum it up, the consumption of tomatoes lowers the risk of cancer, heart disease, degenerative disease of the eye, osteoporosis, and diabetes among other things. It also reduces the chances of asthma and lowers homocysteine levels. No wonder it is the second most widely consumed fruit/vegetable in North America.