With more than 10,000 varieties to choose from, it’s easy to incorporate this delicious food into your healthy diet.

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? This question has been debated since the discovery of this plump, juicy produce, and the answer is vague.

Tomatoes are the fruit of a tomato plant, which contains seeds and grows from a flowering plant. Therefore, botanically speaking, the tomato is classified as a fruit. However, the U.S. Supreme Court classifies a tomato as a vegetable under U.S. customs regulations. Regardless of the official categorization, the fact remains that for centuries, people have been enjoying tomatoes for their taste and natural benefits.

The name tomato came from the Aztec word “tomatl,” meaning “plump fruit.” It was cultivated in the lower Andes in the early 1700s, but due to the highly perishable nature of the fruit, the tender produce was carried out of the extreme weather conditions to Central America. Today, there are more than 10,000 tomato varieties grown around the world, with China leading production. The U.S. is responsible for producing the second-largest amount of tomatoes each year, with hundreds of thousands of acres yielding millions of tons in tomatoes.

This superfood is often red in color but may come in shades of yellow, pink and even purple. They are rich in lycopene, calcium and potassium, packed with vitamins A and C and are cholesterol free. A tomato is full of antioxidants, making them a heart-healthy option. They may even lower the risk of cancer, prevent cardiovascular disease and regulate blood levels.

Tomatoes play an important part in two of the world’s most popular foods: pizza and pasta. With the popularity of the produce, there are endless ways to include them into a diet. They can be eaten raw, cooked and even pureed, and served hot or cold. Did you know a cooked tomato is actually better for you than a raw one? More beneficial chemicals are released during the heating process, creating higher concentrations of lycopene.

U.S. Supreme Court rules the tomato is a vegetable

Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304

In the 19th century, The Port Authority of New York categorized a tomato as a vegetable, which was accompanied by a 10 percent tax known as The Tariff of 1883. A fruit importer demanded that tomatoes be exempt from the tariff because they could be argued as a fruit. However, the U.S. Supreme Court deduced that because tomatoes are usually served with dinner and are not sweet like a dessert, they can’t be a fruit. Therefore, the vegetable tax remains.

Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:

Tomato and mozzarella skewers

Tomato, cucumber and avocado salad

Fresh tomato salsa

 

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