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?
In Nahuatl, the word tomatl means swelling fruit or fatty water.
They were cultivated by Indians living north of the equator. From there, they spread to Central and North America about 2,000 years ago.
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.
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 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."
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.
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.
Nearly 60% of the world's production comes from Asia.