The tomato is one of the most important vegetables in most regions of the world. It is a short-lived perennial annual plant. It has vigorous tap root, extensive fibrous roots, solid, hairy stems and spirally arranged, mainly oval leaves. The fruit is a fleshy, round or lobed, smooth or furrowed, red, pink or yellow berry with numerous flat, slightly curved seeds. The tomato originally as a small, wrinkled thick – skinned and seedy vegetable, much smaller in size and irregular in form. Many scientific methods were employed to bring it to its present shape and quality. It has now hundreds of varieties, many of which are smoothy and globular, with almost solid pulp.
Origin and Distribution
Tomato is considered to be a native of South America, probably the Peru-Equator. From there it was brought to Europe by the Spaniards in the early 16th century. But for several hundred years, it was grown only as garden ornament and was called ‘love apple’. Only in 1860 it was discovered that tomato was as good a food as any other fruit or vegetable. Soon after this discovery, it gradually became very popular all over the world.
Only about 130 years back, tomato was considered poisonous. It was regarded by many as an acid-forming food, which would increase the acidity of the blood and body tissues. Because of this belief, those suffering from gout, rheumatism, arthritis and general acidosis were advised not to use it. It was also blamed to be a cancer-culprit. It was thought that it has no food value and that it supplied only colour and flavour to the diet. The latest studies in nutritional chemistry have, however, completely dispelled these baseless ideas about tomato. It is now considered to have unsurpassable nutritional and health giving qualities. Tomato is rich in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C and carbohydrates.
Moisture 94.0% Calcium 48mg
Protein 0.9% Phosphorus 20mg
Fat 0.2% Iron 0.4mg
Minerals 0.5% Vitamin C 27mg
Fiber 0.8% Small amount of
Carbohydrates 3.4% Vitamin B Complex
Value per 100 Gms edible portion Calorific Value – 20
The carbohydrate in tomato is chiefly in the form of invert sugar which is the predigested form. It contains very small quantity of starch which is converted into sugar, chiefly dextrose during the process of ripening.
Natural Benefits and curative properties
The tomato is one of the most powerful deobstruents of the Materia Medica. It removes disease particles and opens natural channels of the body. It is gentle natural stimulant for kidneys and helps to wash away the toxins which cause diseases and contaminate our system. They are at their best when they are fully ripe. There vitamin C content increases as they ripen. Tomato juice is probably one of the most widely used juices. Fresh new tomato juice is most beneficial and has an alkaline reaction, when digested, in concentrated form. Tomato as an external application can be used as a cosmetic. Its pulp should be applied liberally on the face and left there for an hour and then washed with warm water. Repeated daily, it will give good complextion and remove ugly-looking pimples in a short time.
The tomato is essentially an alkaline vegetable. Its acid taste is due to malice acid which is about 0.5 per cent. It also contains o.52 to 1.81 per cent citric acid and only a trace of oxalic acid. These acids in tomatoes, in combination with sodium and potassium either form sodium or potassium acid malate, citrate or oxalate. Their end products, when oxidized in the body, are carbon dioxide, water and the carbonates of potassium and sodium. The latter has alkaline reaction. Tomatoes thus leave an alkaline ash in the process of being oxidized by the body. This increases the alkalinity of the blood and decreases the urine and neutralizes the acid compounds of the body such as phosphates, urea and ammonia. It is, therefore, highly beneficial in the treatment of acidosis and other disease associated with too much acid in the system.
Because of its low carbohydrate contents, it is very good food for diabetic patients and for those who want to reduce their body weight. It is said to be very effective in controlling the percentage of sugar in the urine of diabetic patients.
Being a rich source of vitamin A, tomatoes are a dependable preventive against night blindness short sightedness and other diseases of the eye caused by the deficiency of the vitamins. Tomato leaves are useful in optic nerve and eye weakness. A small handful of the freshly plucked leaves should be covered with soft hot water for 15 minutes. The water should then be strained. It forms a good tonic for the eyes and optic nerve when a teaspoonful of this water is taken before meals three times daily.
Eating a tomato early in the morning is found to be very effective medicine to prevent the formation of urinary calculi or stone by supplying sufficient quantity of acids and vitamin A and C. It is proved that deficiency of vitamins A and C and the recurrent urinary tract infections are among the most important factors in the formation of calculi i.e stone. Tomato restricts the acid value of urine to 5.5 or less, thereby reducing the chances of infections by increasing the acidity of the urine.
Tomatoes are highly beneficial in the treatment of obesity. One or two ripe tomatoes taken early morning, without breakfast, for a couple of months is considered a safe method of reducing in weight and at the same time, it also supplies the essential food elements to preserve the health.
Intestinal and Liver Disorders
A glassful of fresh tomato juice, mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper, taken early in the morning is considered an effective remedy for morning sickness, biliousness, sluggishness and diminished responsiveness of the liver, jaundice, indigestion, excessive formation of gas in the intestines, constipation, diarrhea due to indigestion burning in the gastro-intestinal tract and constant burning sensation in the chest due to hiatus – hernia a condition in which stomach passes partly or completely into chest.
A glassful of fresh tomato juice mixed with honey, a pinch of powdered cardamom seeds, taken after swallowing three peeled cloves of garlic, every night before going to bed, is considered highly beneficial in the treatment of tuberculosis and other lung infections. It increases the body’s resistance and prevents drug resistance and the relapse which are so common in tubercular patients. In asthmatics, it reduces the congestion in the bronchioles and checks the hyper-secretion of mucous and reduces the spasms.
The juice of the whole plant including leaves, mixed with equal quantity of till-oil, is heated until all the watery part is evaporated and the oil is preserved in a bottle. This oil, massaged over painful joints and sprains and fomented with dry heal gives a great relief.