Tomatoes have so many uses. Made into soups, sandwiches, stews, and sauces, the tomato is more than just a fruit, it can be an essential ingredient to good health. Tomatoes are very rich in antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids and carotenoids, especially lycopene. Lycopene is a substance which is naturally found in tomatoes. Not only does it give the tomato its bright red coloring, but it also protects the fruit from the effects of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Considering how it protects the tomato, scientists conducted research which proved their theory that it can also protect the human body. Lycopene is concentrated in the prostate gland, and is used as a preventative against prostate cancer. It has also been shown to protect the body against mouth, lung, stomach, pancreas, bladder, colon, and rectal cancers.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, in fact is it 100% more effective than the well-known free radical scavenger, Vitamin E. It is also 56% more powerful than beta-carotene, one of the ingredients which make carrots healthy. Antioxidants are known for their power to neutralize oxygen free radical molecules, which are the highly reactive and toxic by-products of biochemical reactions which occur during cell metabolism.
Exposure to smoking, pollutions, and other damaging influences of the environment can further aggravate this condition. We will have to contend with these free radicals for as long as we live. The impact that they have can be greatly reduced by antioxidants, which help minimize the damage that that is done when the number of free radicals in the body overwhelm its capacity to deal with them.
The bio-availability of this beneficial, fat-soluble carotenoid can be greatly improved when the tomato is cooked into a sauce. The levels of lycopene in both the blood cells and immune cells are raised when tomatoes are cooked. With that in mind, it is reasonable to say that even eating small amounts of the cooked tomato can help to protect the immune system. Oriental nutrition suggests that the tomato can do even more. The fruit is said to moisten the body by building the Yin fluids, which will relieve skin dryness and thirst. Tomatoes also strengthen the stomach, cleanse the liver, purify the blood, and remove toxins in the body according to this ancient nutritional knowledge.
- Page, N.D., L., Healthy Healing – a guide to self healing for everyone. Traditional Wisdom, Inc. 2002.
- Porrini, M., Effects of Processing on Bioavailability of the functional components in tomatoes.
- Kucuk, O., Evidence for reducing the risk of prostate cancer – a clinical trial. 90th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. 1999.
- Pitchford, P., Healing with Whole Foods – Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books, 1993.