One of the joys of summer is biting into a juicy sun-ripened tomato. It’s not only tasty, but also super good for you. Tomatoes are low-calorie, low-carb and full of disease-fighting nutrients. So, have you had your tomatoes today?
Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is responsible for their red color. Lycopene has been found to lower the risk of prostate, ovarian, lung and stomach cancers. It also lessens the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome. And lycopene and other nutrients in tomatoes also protect against eye conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration.
Tomatoes are a terrific source of vitamins. One tomato will provide 30% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. They also supply decent amounts of vitamin A, vitamin K and blood-pressure-lowering potassium.
The lycopene in tomatoes protects your skin from the sun damage which can cause skin cancer. This is especially effective in combination with olive oil which boosts its absorption from your digestive system into your bloodstream.
Great either Fresh or Cooked
Besides the treat of just biting into a ripe juicy tomato, you, of course, can add them fresh to salads or omelets, serve with fresh mozzarella or with other fresh vegetables in gazpacho. Yet, you can absorb even more lycopene from tomatoes when they’re cooked. This is because lycopene is trapped in the cell wall. Cooking breaks down the wall and releases the lycopene. Thus tomato sauce, paste or salsa are all good for us. Even when you can’t get them fresh you can still receive the benefits of tomatoes year around!
Commercial vs. Sun-Grown
Commercially grown tomatoes are harvested and transported while still green. But to make them red before selling, food companies will spray them with ethylene gas. This procedure inhibits the development of natural flavor and usually results in tasteless tomatoes. You’re thus better off buying locally grown tomatoes because they’re allowed to ripen naturally. Buy them from your farmer’s market or even more fun—grow your own!
Possible Side Effects
Because tomatoes contain malic acid and citric acid, your stomach can get excessively acidic. Eating too many tomatoes could cause heart burn or acid reflux due to the production of excess gastric acid in the stomach. Persons who suffer from digestive stress or have symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) may need to limit their tomato intake.
Although tomato allergy is rare, persons allergic to grass pollen are more likely to be allergic to tomatoes.
People with arthritis, often think they should avoid tomatoes because they can cause inflammation that leads to joint pain. However there is no research showing this. It’s actually just the opposite—the lypocene in tomatoes has an anti-inflammatory effect.
All in all, for most of us, tomatoes are wonderfully beneficial. So, have you had your tomatoes today?