Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nutritional Benefits of Tomatoes

The jury is still out on whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Whichever the case, it is a healthy food loaded with numerous vitamins and minerals that help to keep the body in good shape by flushing out toxins. Italian cuisine is rich in tomato recipes although this fruit originated in the Americas before it was introduced to Europe and the other parts of the world. The tomato is great-tasting and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked which releases more lycopene which fights cancer. The fruit is also rich in antioxidants which keep the heart healthy and the body free of toxins.

Cancer-fighting Tomatoes

When buying fresh tomatoes, it is advisable to choose the reddest ones as they contain the most lycopene and beta carotene. Tomatoes are quite perishable and should be stored correctly, preferably at room temperature like on the kitchen counter in a bowl. This ensures that they retain their flavour. It is also advisable to buy a few fresh ones at a time and use them up in a few days. However, canned tomatoes are just as nutritious when the fresh variety is not available. Cooking tomatoes in olive oil releases lycopene and the olive oil aids in better absorption of this important nutrient.

Daily consumption of tomatoes ensures good health by flushing out toxins, keeping the heart healthy and also fighting cancer. Apart from fighting cancer, lycopene is also known to inhibit the growth of existing cancer cells. Other nutrients found in the tomato include forty percent of recommended daily intake of vitamin C, seven and ten percent of iron for women and men respectively, fifteen percent of vitamin A and eight percent of potassium. Tomatoes are also a good source of dietary fibre which lowers cholesterol, lowers blood sugar and prevents colon cancer.

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