When it comes to having a healthy diet, fruits and vegetables are a necessary, albeit divisive, part of your meals. And depending on your tastebuds, one of the most divisive fruits will end up either complementing your dish or getting pushed to the side of your plate.
That fruit? Tomatoes.
One of the most surprising facts about tomatoes is that they’re actually fruits, not vegetables. Like with cilantro, some people are biologically inclined to completely hate the unique chemical compounds that build a tomato’s flavor profile — but if you’re one of them, you’re missing out on a world of gastronomical wonders and health benefits.
From different sauces and salads to homemade ketchup, tomatoes are easy to incorporate into your diet and simple to grow indoors or out. Here’s everything you need to get started!
Facts About Tomatoes: The Cancer-Fighting Fruit
Ever since they were brought to Europe in the 16th century, tomatoes have revolutionized the way we view food. They quickly became a part of the Mediterranean diet, which studies indicate can combat severe depression and anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and increase longevity. There’s a reason why Greece is viewed as one of the healthiest nations in the world.
In terms of delivering healthy nutrients, tomatoes are perhaps one of the most efficient foods. Not only are they low in calories, but they also combine a host of nutrients and minerals that aren’t normally found together in other fruits.
Just take a look at some of the benefits of tomatoes contain and how their nutrients impact our lives:
Why Are Tomatoes Good For You?
- Carotenoids: These nutrients provide the human body with better circulation and healthier skin. Tomatoes contain all four carotenoids — alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.
- Antioxidants: Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, a strong antioxidant that may lower the risk of prostate cancer.
- Potassium: Many of us neglect this important mineral, but potassium helps regulate your blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, and aids muscle contractions, among other benefits. Both tomatoes and tomato juice contain high amounts of it.
- Vitamin C: Tomatoes are packed with 16.9 mg of vitamin C, compared to just 3.6 mg in one medium carrot. Vitamin C helps regenerate other antioxidants, boosts your immune function, and synthesizes collagen, among other benefits.
- Glucose and fructose: These natural sugars are are important diet staples. They contain fewer calories than artificial sweeteners, and they provide you with valuable energy in the form of carbohydrates.
- Lots of fiber: Fiber has the crucial role of easing the digestion of food, improving the nutrient absorption in your intestines and the state of your colon bacteria.
Starting Your Own Tomato Garden
It’s easy to grow fresh, natural tomatoes regardless of the weather year-round. While you can set up a garden outside and plant your tomatoes near asparagus, parsley, and basil, it’s also easy to grow tomatoes indoors.
The indoor growth program is useful because it saves a lot of space and provides you with the option to merge your living quarters and the mini-garden of your dreams. Plus, what’s better than remembering you have to add tomatoes to your dish and simply plucking them from a nearby plant?
This efficient method of boosting your diet and health only consists of a few simple steps:
- Pick a tomato variety that doesn’t require a lot of space and won’t grow too high. We recommend heirlooms, like Baxter’s early bush or pink ping pong tomatoes. The varieties that you should aim for are the indeterminate ones which will grow all season long, unlike determinate tomatoes. There are also hybrid tomatoes, like the orange pixie or small fry.
- When you plant your tomatoes, make sure you have pots that can support their growth. If not, pick up some spares in case your plants need to be re-potted.
- Add the right seeding mix and use water and heat to stimulate germination. That’s a biological term for the process of the plant’s growth from seed to a seedling.
- Make sure there is always an abundance of sunlight. If you are really eager to have a foolproof garden, search for some LED lights for plant growth — they work during the night and stimulate photosynthesis, or take a look at self-contained units like the Miracle Gro AeroGarden.
- Apply a fertilizer treatment when needed. Any brand with a high amount of phosphorous should do, and you plant will thank you for the care by growing even stronger.
- When you see that the tomato fruits are ready for harvesting, do it carefully so you don’t disrupt the anatomy of the plant. The process should be done two or three times a year.
If tomatoes aren’t already a part of your regular diet, growing them might be the excuse you need to incorporate this nutrient-rich food into your favorite dishes. How do you enjoy tomatoes? Do you have any tips and tricks for your tomato garden? Let us know in the comments!