The modern tomato plant is a ubiquitous feature of modern cuisine. Served as a condiment, topping or even centerpiece of a dish, it has become one of the most recognizable and commonly used ingredients throughout the world. As with any such common food, it is important to know what effects, both positive and negative, the common tomato has on the human body.
To begin with, a raw tomato is a beneficial addition to any diet. Eating a tomato by itself is sure to yield a number of vitamins, chiefly Vitamins A, C and E. In addition, tomatoes lack fat content and are a great snack for anyone on a diet or looking to keep their waistline trim. Per 100 grams, the average tomato has only 20 calories, and less than .4 of a gram of fat. Tomatoes are also well know as great sources of antioxidants, chiefly lycopene, one of the most powerful natural cancer fighting agents available. Studies have shown that lycopene helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.
However, just taking a cursory glance through modern cuisine will reveal the fact that we seldom eat tomatoes on their own. Because tomatoes lack a high natural fat and salt content, our taste buds, which are designed to respond to such inputs, usually do not find raw tomatoes very appealing. Because of this, we have a propensity to cover our tomatoes and oil and salt, or use them as a base in sauces, nullifying their great health benefits.
Just take a look at modern pizza. A proper basic pizza sauce will have very little oil, sugar and salt added, consisting mainly of tomatoes, herbs and possibly onions and garlic. But when you add it to a pizza dough, and throw some fatty cheese and pepperoni on top, the negatives of that meal far outweigh the benefits that the tomato will bring.
If you are looking to enjoy the benefits of tomatoes, stick to eating them raw or pairing them with low fat foods. A great way to enjoy tomatoes is to create juices out of them. A very popular and tasty juice that would bring great health benefits would be tomato and carrot, with a pinch of Splenda for sweetness and a pinch of salt to bring out the flavours. You could also try pairing tomatoes with Basil, which is a natural companion flavour.
Tomatoes should form a part of everyone’s diet, but only if consumed in the proper manner. Next time you are cooking with tomatoes think of the reasons why they are so beneficial to the human body (low fat and salt content) and if you find yourself adding these two ingredients, you should rethink your cooking strategy. Although everything is good in moderation, raw un-adulterated tomatoes can be one of those rare exceptions to this rule.