The health benefits of tomatoes are numerous as they are packed with
vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate,
beta-carotene, which the body
to vitamin A, and lycopene -- vitamins and minerals that you can get
naturally without buying them in a vitamin shop.
Tomatoes originated in South America, and according to historians, it
was the Spanish explorers who brought them to Europe. Tomato was
introduced to North America in the early 1800s by immigrants from
Europe, particularly, the Italians. Today, the United States is
the second largest tomato producers in the world, after China, with
most of the produce coming from Florida and California.
While tomatoes are
widely used in cooking, rather like a
they are actually the fruits of the tomato plant.
Tomatoes are extremely popular all over the world, but there was a time
when tomatoes were considered to be poisonous because of their toxic
leaves and were grown only as ornamental fruit.
Tomatoes are easy to grow and there are hundreds of varieties to choose
from. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. They fall into
three main categories: round ones (perfect for slicing and eating raw),
plum (great for making sauces and canning), and cherry tomatoes (served
whole in salads and also great in sautees and other dishes).
Vine-ripened tomatoes taste best; and although tomatoes are available
year-round, vine-ripened ones are only available during the growing
Tomatoes and Health
Tomatoes are one of the richest sources of lycopene, a phytochemical
that give tomatoes their red color. Lycopene acts as an anitoxidant
neutralizing free radicals which damage cells of our body and reduces
the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, especially
A study conducted by Harvard scientists showed that men who ate more
than 10 servings of tomato-based foods daily could cut the risk of
developing prostate cancer by 35 percent compared to those who ate the
least quantity of these foods.
The benefits of lycopene were even more pronounced in advanced stages
of prostate cancer. Furthermore, studies indicated that tomato
consumption may reduce the risk of colorectal, stomach, and lung
cancers as well.
Unlike some vegetables that lose their vitamins and minerals when
cooked, the health benefits of tomatoes increase when they are cooked
and processed. When making sauces, juices, and ketchups, water gets
evaporated, leaving a more concentrated product, with more
lycopene per unit than with a fresh-cut tomato. So in the case of
tomatoes, it's better to eat processed products than fresh tomatoes.
The lycopene-rich tomato may also benefit heart health by lowering the
risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies show that lycopene prevents the
oxidation of LDL "bad" cholesterol.
In a women's health study of nearly
40,000 women, those with the highest lycopene levels had a fifty
percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who
the lowest levels.
study showed that eight weeks of daily intake of a tomato extract led
to a significant drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in
patients with mild to
in tomatoes also acts as a natural sunblock and helps
prevent sunburns, prevent cell-damage that causes skin cancer.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin K which is essential for bone
health and prevention of osteoporosis.
The vitamins A and C in tomatoes are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
and help protect against asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease,
stroke, and diabetes.
It might be a good idea to go for organically grown tomatoes, as they
seem to contain higher levels of vitamin C and lycopene though smaller
in size. Researchers explain that this is because organic growing tends
to cause more stress to the plants as they have to fend off pests, and
therefore produce more of stress compounds like vitamin C and lycopene
to defend themselves.
Use a serrated knife or very sharp non-serrated knife
to slice or chop tomatoes.
To peel tomatoes, blanch by dropping them into
boiling water for about 30 seconds, or longer for firm tomatoes, then
drop into a bowl of ice water to cool quickly, and pull the skin off.
When you eat cooked tomatoes, your body absorbs more of their cancer-fighting lycopene.
http://news.ufl.edu (University of Florida)
smaller-but-better-organic-tomatoes-may-pack-more-nutritional-punch The Complete Book of
Nutritional Healing, Deborah Mitchell