Michelle Schoffro Cook August 2, 2012
‘Tis the season for tomatoes—lots of them. If you have a garden, you may already be enjoying the harvest of your tomato plants. If not, there are many reasons to stop at your local market and pick some up. Here are 9 reasons to love tomatoes:
1. They’re packed with vitamin C—a critical nutrient to keep your immune system strong.
2. They contain an important phytonutrient called lycopene that has been proven in studies to fight aging and have anti-cancer properties. It appears to be particularly effective against prostate and colon cancers.
3. Lycopene found in tomatoes even protects our genetic material against damage and the resulting disease.
4. Tomatoes stimulate the production of the amino acid carnitine which has been shown in research to speed the body’s fat-burning capacity by over 30 percent.
5. Research shows the lycopene found in tomatoes, when eaten regularly, can reduce the risk of heart disease by 29 percent.
6. Lack of lycopene in a menopausal woman’s diet has been linked to osteoporosis.
7. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown in research to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. They have also been shown to prevent clumping in the blood (known as platelet aggregation), which is a risk factor for atherosclerosis.
8. Tomatoes also contain other valuable phytonutrients, including: beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which improve vision and help protect your eyes from degeneration.
9. They are delicious and so versatile! They can be enjoyed in pasta, salads, soups, stews, wraps, curries, and many of your favorite dishes.
Some people claim that tomatoes should be eaten cooked for maximum nutritional value. That’s not the full story, however. While lycopene is best absorbed from cooked tomatoes, vitamin C and the enzymes found in tomatoes are best if eaten uncooked. So, I suggest mixing things up a bit. Relish cooked tomatoes in soups, stews, and curries. Enjoy raw ones in salads, sandwiches, and salsas.
Research also shows that the form of lycopene found in yellow and orange tomatoes is better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the red ones, but throw some multicolored heirloom tomatoes into the mix too.
Adapted from World’s Healthiest News.