Tomatoes: the underappreciated superfood
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
The trusted old tomato is the base of so many traditional recipes but did you know it is actually packed full of vitamins and nutrients?
Tomatoes contain good amounts of Vitamin E, thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin B6, foliate, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin K, copper and antioxidants.
Lycopene is not only a powerful antioxidant but is responsible for the deep red colour we associate with fresh tomatoes.
Studies have shown that a good intake of lycopene can reduce a person risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, in particular prostate cancer.
As new evidence emerges, the potential benefits of Lycopene may be endless with a recent studies showing lycopene has the potential to improve lung function in those with asthma and may even reduce UV-Induced damage (sun damage) when consumed daily.
Lycopene is fat soluble, therefore to get the most out of your tomatoes try consuming them with a sources of healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado.
Additionally, cooking tomatoes ruptures the cell wall making lycopene more accessible to the body.
The trick is to heat the tomatoes at low temperatures, as high temperatures can cause lycopene to become unstable.
Tomatoes for eye health
Tomatoes are packed full of two important compounds for eye health called lutein and zeaxanthin. The most recent study of Age-Related Eye Disease (AREDS) found that a person with a good consumption of these two nutrients had a 35 per cent reduction in the risk of neovascular age –related macular degeneration.
Not all tomatoes are created equally
Different types of tomato contain different nutrients, for example cherry tomatoes contain higher amounts of beta-carotene than regular tomatoes.
Beta-carotene is vital for the production of retinol or Vitamin A, which is important for healthy skin, vision and our immune system.
Where as, heirloom tomatoes can provide up to forty per cent of our daily requirements of Vitamin C.
Add cherry or grape tomatoes to your salads- they add a burst of colour, fibre and crunch.
Tomato, cheese and avocado on toast is an easy way to start your morning with a nutrient filled breakfast.
Use canned tomatoes in pasta sauces and soups as they contain similar nutrient levels to fresh tomatoes- just be careful of the salt content.
Diced Tomato, corn kernels and cucumber and combine to make a salsa, dressed with olive oil, a little sweet chilli sauce and a squeeze of lemon is a great combo with any Mexican dishes.
This is a general health column, this advice may not be appropriate for those with certain medical conditions and as a result, you should always follow the advice of your health professionals first.