Getting to the Root of It

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We grow some pretty darn good tomatoes here in North Carolina. I could totally live off of tomatoes... as long as they're ripe. Eh, who am I kidding? I'll take a green tomato too. It's the southern in me. Caprese is my favorite meal, actually. It includes my top three favorite ingredients: tomatoes, cheese and salt. I don't care that much about oil and vinegar, to be honest. I do like basil though! So, four favorite ingredients?

Whether you secretly want your tomatoes to be a veggie or have conceded to the fact that they're really a fruit, I'm sure you know by now, tomatoes have tons of nutritional benefits. But, are they really the next cure for cancer? And why do we call them vegetables?

According to WebMD, in 1890, the Surpreme Court ruled tomatoes a vegetable for tax purposes even though the tomato is botanically a fruit since it grows from the base of the plant's flower and houses the seeds of the plant.

It is unclear whether tomatoes actually cure cancer, but both tomatoes and brocolli have a synergy that may help reduce prostate cancer. Tomatoes get their reddish hue from an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a red carotene pigment found in tomatoes and other red foods such as watermelon and papayas (but not strawberries) that may protect cells from cancerous free radicals. Tomatoes don't have to be red to be a good source of lycopene, though. Green tomatoes, beans and parsley are all excellent sources of lycopene.

The University of Montreal conducted a study centered around lycopene in which they concluded that a diet rich in tomato-based products may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. The researchers found that lycopene, provided mainly by tomatoes, was linked to 31% reduction in pancreatic cancer between men with the highest and lowest intakes.

Are you ready for that caprese yet? ​

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Tomatoes actually contain all three high-powered antioxidants, Vitamin C, E and A. In fact, tomatoes are an awesome source of vitamin C so it shouldn't be a surprise when I tell you that Florida grows the most tomatoes out of any other state. Citrus is kind of their thing...

China is the number one producer of tomatoes in the world though. The U.S. is second.

Tomatoes are also chocked full of potassium. So if you're like my mom and hate the texture of a banana, the tomato is your guy. Tomatoes help lower cholesterol and reduce your chance of a stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Basically, if you're not eating red sauce with your pasta, switch now!

Just remember that old saying that used to go "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" but now goes "a tomato a day.. wait... what's a doctor?"