ALL SPICE/PIMENTO: ( Pimenta dioica )
PART USED: Leaves, Fruit, Bark.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: Anti-inflammatory, rubefacient, carminative and anti-flatulent properties. health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, a phenylpropanoids class of chemical compound, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrances to this spice. It also contains caryophyllene, methyleugenol, glycosides, tannins, quercetin, resin and sesquiterpenes. These volatile oils obtained through distillation process using this spice corns. The outer coat of the berries have the greatest medicinal activity. The active principles in the allspice may increase the motility of the gastro-intestinal tract as well as increase the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal secretions. The spice is enriched with good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, copper, selenium, and magnesium. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome- oxidase enzymes during cellular metabolism. It is also required for red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Being an important component of cell and body fluids, potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Also, it contains very good amounts of vitamin-A, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin, niacin and vitamin-C. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant; regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
TOMATO: ( Solanum lycopersicum )
PART USED: Fruit.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: Water carrier and energy booster. Contains carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B-complex, potassium, folates, pyridoxine, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, electrolytes, sodium , calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, phyto-nutrients, carotene-ß, carotene-α, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene.
Tomatoes are one of the low calorie vegetables. They are also very low in any fat contents and have zero cholesterol levels. They contain moderate amounts of many vital B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and other trace elements. Nonetheless, they are excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Because of their all-round qualities, dieticians and nutritionists often recommend them to be included in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction diets.
The antioxidants present in tomatoes are scientifically found to be protective against cancers including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors. The vegetable contains very good levels of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as a and ß-carotenes, xanthins and lutein. Altogether, these pigment compounds are found to have antioxidant properties and are take part in vision, maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin, and bone health. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids is known to help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. In addition, they are also good source of antioxidant vitamin-C, consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
Lycopene, a flavonoid antioxidant, is the unique phytochemical present in the tomatoes. Red varieties are especially concentrated in this antioxidant. Together with carotenoids, it has the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful oxygen free radicals. Studies have shown that lycopene prevents skin damage from ultra-violet rays and offers protection from skin cancer. Zeaxanthin is another flavonoid compuond present abundantly in this vegetable. Zeaxanthin helps protect eyes from “age related macular disease” in the elderly persons by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
Fresh tomato is very rich in potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure caused by sodium.
Note: Like many other nightshades, tomato leaves and stems contain solanine that is toxic if ingested. Ripened fruit does not contain this compound. Leaves, stems, and green unripe fruit of the tomato plant contain small amounts of the poisonous alkaloid tomatine. Use of tomato leaves in tea (tisane) has been responsible for at least one death. Tomato plants can be toxic to dogs if they eat large amounts of the fruit, or chew plant material.
Fresh ripe fruits feature attractively bright red color and have rich fruity flavor. In the markets, buy fresh, firm, uniform sized fruits. Avoid those with wrinkle surface, discolored spots, cuts and too soft and mushy.
Firm, yellow fruits can be placed in cool, dark place at room temperature for 2-3 days. However, ripe tomatoes are one of the easily perishable vegetables and should be stored in the refrigerator. Use them while they are fresh to obtain full benefits of vitamins and antioxidants.