Facts about tomatoes

10 tomatoes facts

A basic vegetable in every kitchen

Red, green, yellow, orange, black. There are more than 10,000 cultivars of tomatoes, varying in shape, color, and flavor. Tomatoes originated in the Andes Mountains of South America, where they can still be found in their wild form. Wild tomato fruits are much smaller and darker than present day varieties.

Tomatoes are associated with health, but did you know that they contain a toxic alkaloid?

The English name is derived from Nahuatl, the main language of the Aztecs.

In Nahuatl, the word tomatl means swelling fruit or fatty water.

Tomatoes are native to South America.

They were cultivated by Indians living north of the equator. From there, they spread to Central and North America about 2,000 years ago.

They came to Europe in the 16th century, brought by Spanish sailors from Mexico.
Tomatoes contain significant amounts of vitamins A, E and K, B vitamins and potassium.

One medium-sized tomato covers the 30% of daily requirement for vitamin C. They also contain beta-carotene and lutein(belonging to the carotenoids), as well as phenolic compounds.

Because of the red color of the fruit and its characteristic smell, tomatoes were considered poisonous plants.

As late as the 19th century, it was believed that eating a tomato would turn the blood to acid. They were treated only as ornamental plants.

The forerunners in the cultivation of tomatoes in Europe were the Spaniards, growing them as early as the 16th century.

The Italians have an eternal dispute with the Spaniards over the precedence in the use of tomatoes but all cookbooks from the 18th century onward refer to dishes with tomatoes as "Spanish-style dishes."

One of the most valuable components of the tomato is lycopene.

It is a natural red pigment (carotenoid) found in plants. Lycopene is an antioxidant and has properties that protect the body from cardiovascular disease and cancer (especially prostate, breast, pancreatic and colon cancers).

Although a diet rich in tomatoes provides large amounts of lycopene, there are varieties with several times more bioavailability of this compound than the classic tomato.

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Immature tomatoes contain tomatine, which is present in every part of the plant and is toxic.

It is a natural substance used by the plant to defend itself against pests and diseases.

This is why tomatoes were once considered poisonous, but as they ripen, the amount of tomatin decreases.

The world's largest tomato producers are China, India and the USA.

Nearly 60% of the world's production comes from Asia.

In 18th century France, tomatoes were considered an aphrodisiac.
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