Tomatoes: The Italian Staple from South America

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Tomatoes are a New World food from the Old World. Likely brought to  Europe by Spanish explorers from South America, the tomato had worked  its way into Italian cuisine by the 16th century and now resides in home  gardens and family recipes around the globe. One must think of the  first brave soul to taste these “berries:” the leaves are toxic, a  trait the tomato shares with the other brethren of the the nightshade family, including tobacco, eggplant, and peppers.

tomato sauceHundreds, if not thousands, of varieties now exist in many sizes and shapes. Most folks know that it is a fruit, and high in Vitamin C, but recently the  great nutritional value of Lycopene has been touted. Lycopene is the most powerful carotenoid  quencher of singlet oxygen, 100 times better than Vitamin E. It  can be found in supplements and skin treatments thanks to  its anti aging properties. Singlet  oxygen is produced during exposure to ultraviolet light and is a primary  cause of skin aging. Interesting thing about Lycopene is that it is  more bio-available when cooked, or at least mashed. And not only does it taste better mixed with oil - it creates a fat-soluble  antioxidant. So now spaghetti sauce is good for you too.

 

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