Currently, tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables eaten by Americans. Tomatoes are members of the fruit family, but they are served and prepared as a vegetable. This is why most people consider them a vegetable and not a fruit. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A.
The tomato seems to have originated on the western coast of South America, in present day Peru, where eight species in the tomato genus still grow wild in the Andes Mountains. It seems to have been domesticated in Central America.
This was around the time the Spanish explorer Cortez conquered the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, later to be renamed Mexico City, in 1521. It is presumed that the tomato found its' way across the Atlantic shortly after.
- Tomatoes are lipophilic, which means their nutritional value is increased by being cooked in some fat.
- Cooked tomatoes may be more beneficial to your health than raw tomatoes.
- Tomatoes are rich in vitamins (A, C, Calcium) and fiber.
- Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant Lycopene.
There may also be an association between heart health and tomatoes. In a study conducted by University of North Carolina scientists, the fat samples drawn from both heart attack sufferers and healthy controls were analyzed for lycopene and other carotenoids.