Way back in the 1800's, people thought tomatoes were deadly, to the point of referring to them as 'poison apples'.
While tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, which does contain some pretty unpleasant plants, this fruit (not a vegetable!) is unlikely to cause you harm and may in fact contain some tasty health benefits when eaten.
Happy Tasty Healthy Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain a number of compounds called phytochemicals, which can provide a range of health benefits when we eat them.
Lycopene and β-carotene, both carotenoids (a type of phytochemical) found in tomatoes, are believed to play a role in protection against cardiovascular disease¹. Another carotenoid lutein has been also shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as maintaining eye health as we age².
Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and helps with healing and supporting your immune system, as well as reducing total cholesterol. And all the compounds mentioned above have anti-inflammatory effects, which can improve our overall health and wellbeing.
The best thing about tomatoes is that you get the same (and sometimes more!) nutritional value from eating them cooked or raw, which meals there are a ton of ways you can include them into your diet without getting bored.
Recipe: Super Simple Tomato Sauce
Tomato based sauces for pizza or pasta are great, and really easy to whip up yourself to avoid all the added sugar found in popular store bought overly processed brands.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced or minced
- 4+ cloves of garlic, diced or minced (we suggest 4 cloves, but feel free to add more if you really love garlic!)
- Fresh basil, oregano, thyme - about a handful of each, roughly chopped. If using dry herbs for convenience, about 1-2 teaspoons of each is suggested.
- 1 tin of diced or crushed tomatoes
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat
- Add chopped garlic & onion, and cook until soft (5-8 mins)
- Add tinned tomatoes and herbs, and stir to combine
- Simmer until sauce thickens up, then remove from heat.
If you're not eating the sauce that day, wait for it to cool then pour into air tight sealed containers. This sauce will keep in the fridge for 2-3 months, so it's super easy to portion out and freeze until you need it for something.
This tomato sauce recipe can be used on it's own as a pasta sauce, just pour over cooked pasta and top with a few pine nuts, some fresh basil, and a sprinkle of parmesan (or brewer's yeast for a vegan option).
You can also prepare a delicious & simple bolognese by browning lean beef or chicken mince in a pan while the sauce is thickening, then stirring the sauce through the cooked mince and serving on cooked pasta, fresh zucchini noodles or some cauliflower rice!
- Kirstie Canene-Adams, Jessica K. Campbell, Susan Zaripheh, Elizabeth H. Jeffery, John W. Erdman; The Tomato As a Functional Food, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 135, Issue 5, 1 May 2005, Pages 1226–1230, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/135.5.1226
- Raiola, Assunta et al. “Enhancing the health-promoting effects of tomato fruit for biofortified food” Mediators of inflammation vol. 2014 (2014): 139873 http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/139873