The tomato is often thought to be a vegetable, whereas it is in fact a fruit. There are so many varieties of tomatoes and the ways to enjoy them are endless! We can eat them raw, cooked, dried or tinned. Tomatoes can form a base for many different dishes such as soups, stews, lasagnas etc. They are also available as juice, dips, ketchup and purees. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene.
Cancer prevention qualities
A tomato weighing 85g represents 36% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Tinned tomatoes have less vitamin C than the fresh ones, but they are equally rich in lycopene which may help in reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer in men. Additionally, it was shown that coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid found in tomatoes may help to protect against other types of cancer such as of the tongue, oesophagus, colon and rectum.
Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits. It gives them their bright red colour and helps protect them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In much the same way, it can help protect our cells from damage. The lycopene in tomatoes seems to “disactivate” free radicals that damage the LDL cholesterol (the bad one), therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular incidents and help to protect against eye conditions such as macular degeneration, and can also boost your immunity.
Next time you are in the supermarket choose bright red tomatoes (not the light ones, as they tend to have less taste). To savour their fabulous flavour eat them raw. You can add them to your salad, grill them, bake them in the oven or microwave. Cooking tomatoes does not destroy the lycopene. Be cautious with bought tomato sauces, always going for low sugar options. Or ideally make your own, using a mixture of tinned tomatoes, puree, mixed herbs, garlic, a small amount of salt and plenty of black pepper. Then you will have all the flavour and health benefits without the added sugar.
Authors Dr Jackie Rose, an experienced GP who specialises in nutrition, and Eva Lasry, Nutritionist, head up the Nutrition Clinic at Private GP Extra. The service offers sound evidence-based medical and nutritional advice to help people achieve optimum health and wellbeing without using medication. Find out more here https://www.privategpextra.com/nutrition-private-gp-extra/