The humble tomato is good not just for adding color, flavor and taste to food, but is also known to be packed with a lot of goodies health wise – recent reports suggest that tomatoes may slow cancer growth.
It is lycopene (the red pigment) found in tomatoes, which is seen to fight cancer since it cuts off the cancer’s ability to gain access to a healthy blood supply.
If the cancer cells do not have access to the blood supply, they cannot derive nourishment and hence cannot grow.
Though lycopene is found to be present in all red colored fruit and vegetables, it is found in tomatoes in the highest concentrations.
What is interesting is that the maximum benefit of tomatoes is to be had not from raw tomatoes but processed tomatoes with a little bit of cooking oil added.
This possible cancer fighting property is not the only benefit to be derived from tomatoes. They are good for a whole lot besides.
Lycopene as antioxidant
The antioxidant properties of tomatoes help in reducing oxidative stress within the body and fight free radicals. There is evidence to show that tomatoes can help improve preserve the texture and youthfulness of skin.
Lycopene is also known to possess valuable properties that fight severity of diseases such as diabetes and even keep at bay health problems such as hypertension.
One study studied the effect of tomatoes and other food items that contain lycopene on bone health of women.
When lycopene containing foods were removed from their diet, the oxidative stress was seen to increase and bone health was seen to decrease, increasing risk of bone disease such as osteoporosis.
There is also evidence to suggest that problematic conditions that lead to heart disease, such as unhealthy cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels could be combated by eating tomatoes in a processed form such as tomato extract or tomato paste.
Other nutritional value of tomatoes
It isn’t just lycopene that makes tomatoes such a desirable ingredient in our diet. Tomatoes are packed with other nutrients as well. These can be a great source of potassium, phosphorus Thiamine, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and even calcium.
Apart from all of these benefits of tomatoes, they are also very versatile in terms of the way that they can be cooked and eaten. They form excellent additions to most dishes, salads and so on. And since a lot of their benefits are available even from their processed form such as ketchup, puree and paste, it is really easy to include them in the diet each day.