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Useful Information  

The Tomato

(Solanum lycopersicum, syn. Lycopersicon lycopersicum & Lycopersicon esculentum) is an herbaceous, usually sprawling plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are its close cousins potatoes, eggplants, chili peppers, tobacco, aubergine and the poisonous belladonna. It is a perennial, often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual. Typically reaching to 13 metres (310 ft) in height, it has a weak, woody stem that often vines over other plants. The leaves are 1025 centimetres (410 in) long, odd pinnate, with 59 leaflets on petioles, each leaflet up to 8 centimetres (3 in) long, with a serrated margin; both the stem and leaves are densely glandular-hairy. The flowers are 12 centimetres (0.40.8 in) across, yellow, with five pointed lobes on the corolla; they are borne in a cyme of 312 together.


Tomatoes and Health

Although a single tomato is not exceptionally high in any particular nutrient, we eat such a substantial quantity, about 80 pounds per person annually, that they provide a larger percentage of dietary nutrients than any other fruit or vegetable.

A tomato is made up mostly of water; its nutrients include vitamin A, a substantial amount of vitamin C (about 32 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance), trace amounts of several other vitamins, a bit of iron and other minerals, a little fiber, and a very small amount of protein. Like all fruits and vegetables, the tomato contains a smidgen of fat but, of course, no cholesterol, and delivers a mere five calories per ounce, or about thirty calories in an average slicer.

Since the tomato provides vitamin A, it also contains one of its precursors, beta-carotene. It is now suspected that it is not only beta-carotene that offers cancer protection but also its cousins, the carotenoids. Among these relatives is one called lycopene, and the tomato, fresh or as tomato sauce, juice, or paste, contains more of it than any other produce (almost twice as much as second-ranking watermelon). The tomato surpasses all other vegetables and fruits in total carotenoids. This is not to encourage you to think of the tomato as medicine, a mistake common in our culture, but to offer you yet another reason to freely indulge, should you need one. When you consider how much taste is packed into a single good tomato, it is a real nutritional bargain.


Tomato, A Natural Source Of Lycopene

Tomatoes constitute an excellent food for those who want to adopt a natural diet. They present in their composition a series of elements very appropriate to detoxify the organism and to prevent the appearance of many illnesses:

The first of them is denominated lycopene, a component to which tomato owes its red colour, with similar properties to the betacarotenes of the carrots it has anticancerous properties . Lycopene seems to reduce the probabilities of many cancers, such as those affecting the prostate , the lungs, the stomach, the bladder, and the uterus. Lycopene appears in fresh tomatoes, but especially in cooked ones , since cooking helps to liberate this element and to facilitate the absorption by the organism. Eating tomato in Ketchup or any other food cooked with tomato sauce can constitute a good way to take care of health, preventing the cancer, or reducing cholesterol.
Glutation is another component with proved antioxidant properties that helps to eliminate free radicals, responsible for the appearance of many illnesses, among those, the most terrible one: cancer. This element, that appears with the biggest quantity in broccolis, is fundamentally in the skin of vegetables, so that we should eat tomatoes raw in salad. Glutation is a very appropriate element in the elimination of the body toxins , especially of heavy metals that produce deterioration of the organism by its accumulation. Tomato has been proved to help to eliminate lead efficiently. Other rich foods in this component are: garlic, potato, spinachs, corn or portulaca. Besides this property, we should stand out its capacity to lower blood pressure , to favor the good state of our liver or to prevent eczema.

Other beneficial components to detoxify the organism are vitamin C and vitamin A. Tomato is very rich in both of them. Vitamin A was the first to be discovered in 1913. It helps the body to attain cellular growth, to maintain the bones and the teeth in good state, to help the immunologic system to combat infections, and to maintain sight in good state. When it was discovered, it was thought that one could only obtain it from animals, from their liver and from their eggs. But it took a long time to be discovered that it could also be obtained from carotenes and especially from beta-carotene that is especially in many vegetables. Vitamin A is an essential vitamin whose daily dose is established between 4000 - 5000 IU . Higher doses in a continuous intake can be toxic, producing a state of hypervitaminosis that appears as muscular weakness , blurred vision, hair loss, bad skin, diarrhea ...etc. Complements of vitamin A should not be given to pregnant women to avoid that anomalies to the fetus could take place.
It is very rich in potassium, a mineral that intervenes in the regulation of the corporal liquids as well as in the good state of the nerves, the heart and the muscles. Together with the calcium, very abundant also in the tomato, it intervenes in the formation of the bones.

Tomato is considered to be a good aphrodisiac since it has been proved that eating fresh tomatoes increases the sexual desire.

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