Tomato is a plant food that belongs at the center of a healthy diet. It offers a wide range of health benefits to our body. Consumption of it has been associated with heart health, improved blood sugar levels, eye health, glowing skin, weight loss, cancer, and a lot more.
Tomatoes and Cancer
Tomatoes are the epitome of a cancer-fighting superfood. It contains lycopene, an antioxidant phytochemical that helps prevent diseases. Aside from this, it also has significant amounts of vitamin A, C, and E, which all fights the harmful effects of free radicals that damage cells, leading to illnesses including cancer.
In a 2007 research, experts have found that consumption of tomatoes may help protect men from prostate cancer. This effect is mainly attributed to the red fruit’s high concentration of the antioxidant lycopene.
There were observational studies linking high intakes of carotenoids, including lycopene, to a 32–50% lower risk of lung and prostate cancers.
According to a separate study, men who consumed at least two servings of lycopene-rich tomato sauce per week were 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate less than one serving of tomato sauce per month.
Moreover, there were also some studies revealing that the powerful antioxidant lycopene can help lower down one’s risk of lung, stomach, pancreas, rectum, esophagus, cervix, oral cavity, and breast cancer. In addition to this, some evidence demonstrated that is can also provide a helping hand in reducing LDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
How To Consume Tomatoes For Optimum Benefits?
Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives fruits and vegetables their red color. It is a lipid-soluble compound, which means that consuming it with fat (oil) increases its bioavailability.
Tomatoes are the biggest source of lycopene. It was found that a hundred grams of fresh tomatoes contain 3.0 mg of lycopene with 21.8 mg and 45.9 mg for tomato puree and sun-dried tomatoes. The riper the tomato the more lycopene it contains. However, intakes between 8–21 mg per day appear to be most beneficial.
There are several delicious ways to enjoy tomatoes. Eat them cooked or stewed, as these preparation methods can boost the availability of key nutrients. Eat them fresh with olive oil, an ideal fat for absorption. Grill tomato halves with a slight coating of olive oil and top with chopped fresh basil. We can also consume tomato sauce, tomato paste, or tomato soup, all of which are good heated sources of lycopene.
Aside from tomatoes, lycopene can also be found in watermelons, carrots, pink grapefruits, guavas, and apricot.