How much do we really know about the tomato other than its savoring juices and bright reddish color? Or the fact that we indulge in so many tomato base dishes thinking to ourselves, “Lord knows it is good.” and “I thank you Jesus!” Yes, there are many reasons to give God thanks for the tomato.
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15
Botanically speaking, the tomato is a fruit, although here in the United States it’s used as a culinary vegetable. Nevertheless, the tomato is tossed in salads, added to entrees, strained as a juice, tucked into sandwiches, and the list continues.
The tomato plays a big role in our economy, in terms of health, wealth, resources, production, and consumption.
The tomato binomial name is Solanum Lycopersacum. It’s native home is Central and South America where it once-upon-a-time grew in the wild. The tomato was thought of as a poisonous fruit until 700 AD, when cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas. Mexico claims first to eat this fruit of discovery and then passed it on to Europe, who eventually shared this amazing discovery with the United States during the mid- 18th century.
Soon afterwards, the tomato became a major international money making entity. Consequently, great concern arose for those paying fees to transport tomatoes as a fruit. The Tariff Act of 1883, settles the disturbance when the Supreme Court rule to tax the tomato and label it a vegetable.
In addition, the tomato plant leaf and vine serve an important purpose too: making medicines. There’s a substance in the tomato called lycopene, it’s thought to prevent cancer of the breast, bladder, cervix, colon, rectum, stomach, lung, ovaries, pancreas, and prostate. In addition, it is also a natural sunscreen that provides protection against UV rays. As vital as the tomato is, lycopene is more effective when consumed in tomato paste or tomato juice.
Other treated or prevented illnesses:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colds, chills, flu
- Diabetes (chromium in tomatoes control blood sugar levels)
- Treat high blood pressure
- Digestive disorders
- Bone disease
- Hormone imbalance
- Acidosis (calcium loss)
“If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases …, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26
There are four major carotenoids contained in a single tomato: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene. These carotenoids sometimes offer individual benefits, but may also interact as a group to provide health benefits.
In addition, the tomato contains vitamin A, B, C, and E which are antioxidants. It also contains vitamin K, beta-carotene (the redder the tomato, the more beta-carotene it contains), potassium, riboflavin, calcium, and magnesium.
This little red fruit works to neutralize those little cell damagers called free radicals found in the bloodstream. Tomatoes help keep the hair shiny, strengthen the eyes and cleans/conditions the skin.
The tomato and its incredible health benefits has the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Purdue University researchers exploring methods to double the lycopene and lengthen it’s supermarket shelf life. They’ve genetically modified the tomato with a yeast gene to slow down the ripening process. That way the lycopene’s allotted more time for development. However, this is still a work-in-progress.
Look out for my next article containing three tasty tomato recipes!