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The new contact between the global population circulated a wide variety of crops and livestock, which supported increases in population in both hemispheres, although diseases initially caused precipitous declines in the numbers of indigenous peoples of the Americas.

The most significant immediate impact of the Columbian exchange was the cultural exchanges and the transfer of people (both free and enslaved) between continents.

It also relates to European colonization and trade following Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage.

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The changes in agriculture significantly altered global populations.

Invasive species, including communicable diseases, were a byproduct of the exchange.

16th-century physicians, thus, had good reason to be wary that this native Mexican fruit was poisonous and the generator of "melancholic humours".

In 1544, Pietro Andrea Mattioli, a Tuscan physician and botanist, suggested that tomatoes might be edible, but no record exists of anyone consuming them at this time.

Rice was another crop that became widely cultivated during the Columbian exchange.

As the demand in the New World grew, so did the knowledge on how to cultivate it.

Tomatoes, which came to Europe from the New World via Spain, were initially prized in Italy mainly for their ornamental value (see below).

From the 19th century tomato sauces became typical of Neapolitan cuisine and, ultimately, Italian cuisine in general.

Bananas were still only consumed in minimal amounts during the 1880s. The History of modern banana plantations in the Americas details the spread of this crop within the Americas.

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