Tomato: The exceptional food element

You can call it Solanum lycopersicum or Lycopersicon esculentum or tomato, whichever way you say it, tomatoes is imperative to all cuisines of the world. Ever wondered a day without tomatoes? How would those sandwiches go down without tomato ketchup or what would happen to the pizzas and pastas without the yummy tomato sauces? In the Indian cuisine, the tomatoes are the very basis of the gravies that are relished with so much delight and the bowl of salad would seem incomplete without this juicy food ingredient.

Although it is a fruit, people quite often wrongly refer to the tomato as a vegetable. Nevertheless, it is an ingredient in great demand in any corner of the world. Countless cultivars of the tomato are found today with each having its unique shape, size, color and ability to adapt to wide range of climatic and growing conditions. Some of the common cultivars include-
Globe tomatoes, the most commercially available cultivar which finds a number of uses in a variety of cuisines.
Cherry(round) and grape(oblong) tomatoes which are small in size and are used in various kinds of salads.
Plum tomatoes, the tomatoes so often used to make the yummy sauces and gravies.
Beefsteak tomatoes, which are large in size and are often sliced up for sandwiches.
Tomatoes can be found in many colors. Yes, you have read it correctly indeed the tomato can be found in colors as unthinkable as pink, black, brown, white, purple and yellow apart from the common colors such as red, green and orange we so often come across in the market.

a girl with a ripe red tomato

If you think this succulent food ingredient is just around to make the food we eat look tempting, then you are mistaken. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a review states that processed tomatoes have greater levels of antioxidants that are beneficial to our health. The antioxidant of importance found in tomato is lycopene and it is proposed that tomato sauce, ketchup, puree and various tomato products obtained by processing tomatoes are rich in lycopene. Tomatoes are said to exhibit anti-cancerous effects particularly in cases of prostate cancer. In addition, they are also thought to confer cardiovascular benefits by lowering platelet activation.

Therefore, the tomato is well placed in our food and it would not be wrong to say that it is an irreplaceable food constituent.

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