Beets are highly nutritious and cardiovascular-friendly root vegetables. Unique pigment antioxidants present in the root, as well as top greens, have been found to offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels in the body and have anti-aging effects. The beet became commercially important in 19th century Europe following the development of the sugar beet in Germany and the discovery that sucrose could be extracted from them, providing an alternative to tropical sugar cane. It remains a widely cultivated commercial crop for producing table sugar.
Originally cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 A.D., the tomato is native to the Americas. Europeans were first made aware of the tomato when explorers brought back seed from Mexico and Central America in the 16th century. Tomatoes quickly became popular in the Mediterranean countries, but received resistance as they spread north. The British in particular considered the fruit to be beautiful but poisonous. This fear was shared in the American colonies and it was years before the tomato gained widespread acceptance.