The tomato is a wonderfully popular and versatile food that comes in over a thousand different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color. There are small cherry, bright yellow/tangerine, bright red, Italian pear-shaped, green, purple, brown and black tomatoes. They are botanically classified as a fruit, but due are not as sweet as other fruits hence they are cooked like vegetables. In Nigeria, tomato is a huge part of our daily diet as it is used for stews, sauces, salads and also sometimes for juices. As versatile as the tomato is on our kitchens, they are also packed with the following benefits:
- Heart health- Fresh tomatoes helps lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides and prevent unwanted clumping together of platelet cells in the blood which reduces heart problems
- Healthy skin and hair- an excellent anti-oxidant which provides beta-carotene, vitamin C, mineral mangnese and a good amount of Vitamin E
- High intake of fruit and vegetables tends to increase energy levels while lowering weight gain, thus reducing the risk of obesity.
- Improved blood sugar- tomatoes are rich in fiber and people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fibre diets have reduced blood glucose levels
- Eases constipation- The high fiber content of tomatoes tends to add bulk to the stool thus promoting regular bowel movement.
How to buy and store tomatoes
Tomatoes must be well shaped and smooth skinned with no wrinkles, bruises or soft spots (This is a massive challenge here in Nigeria as most times the tomatoes purchased have all these characteristics and we just wash them nicely and blend it up.
Tomatoes can keep for as long as a week if stored outside direct exposure to sunlight and at room temperature. To stop the ripening process, you can place the tomatoes stem side down in a cool place. This tends to prevent moisture from leaving the tomato and blocks air from getting in. If your tomatoes are overly ripe, you can place them in the butter compartment of the refrigerator for a few days to prevent further ripening. However, before use, let them sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to help regain their natural flavor.
Enjoy your tomatoes, they are definitely good for you!