They can be super sweet or incredibly tart and can range from yellow to orange, red to green. This delightful fruit has over a thousand different varieties that can decorate your plate in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It's used in more recipes than almost any other food in the world and, and although it is a fruit, it's most often used in savory dishes. (But, yes, it can also be made into a delicious pie!)
Do you know which food I'm talking about?
I'm talking about the tomato!
No matter what you think about the tomato, it never conjures up thoughts of exotic flavors or super nutrition. The tomato is so widely used that its nutritional superhero status has been entirely forgotten. We have taken the tomato for granted!
Although it's been lost in a sea of new superfoods, it may be one of the most versatile and most powerful of all foods. How many ways can the tomato be used? Tomato juice, BBQ sauce, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, marinara sauce, salsa, on and on the list goes. But people rarely talk about its health benefits, its great flavor, or its boldness or tartness. The humble tomato has been overlooked and that ends here!
Let's talk about why the tomato should be a routine part of your culinary diet.
There are literally thousands of different types of tomatoes, meaning you aren't stuck with the common Beefsteak or Roma tomatoes. They're loaded with vitamins, minerals and many powerful antioxidants and, while all tomatoes have good antioxidant capacity, four varieties tested especially high in antioxidants: New Girl, Jet Star, Fantastic, and First Lady. They are anti-aging superstars that you should keep a special eye out for next time you go grocery shopping.
You may have heard of one of their most powerful antioxidants, lycopene. In fact, the lycopene in orange and yellow tomatoes is better absorbed than the lycopene from the red tomato.
Aside from their beautifying and anti-aging benefits, tomatoes also provide cardiovascular health benefits and can help reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. They help prevent fatty acid oxidation, which can damage our cardiovascular system and heart. Many of the phytonutrients in tomatoes were shown to help keep blood platelets from clumping, helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
If you want super antioxidant power from these little gems, don't peel them! A lot of the antioxidant power is in the skin and a cooked tomato is going to have a higher lycopene absorption rate.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
But what do all of these vitamins and antioxidants actually do for your body? Let's break down some of their most powerful and nutritious health benefits.
- Tomatoes offer bone-building health properties. Lycopene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A are very important for bone health. Studies show lycopene is particularly important for preventing oxidative stress in bones.
- Tomatoes offer many cancer-preventing benefits, particularly prostate cancer.
- Tomatoes help prevent our stored fats (triglycerides) from becoming cellular-damaging oxidized fatty acids.
- Tomatoes protect our blood vessels by providing nutrients that keep the cell membranes flexible and protect against blood vessel cell wall oxidative damage.
- Tomatoes help keep blood platelets from clumping together.
- Tomatoes help prevent premature-aging by providing a super arsenal of antioxidants that protect our DNA.
- Tomatoes provide health-promoting and protective benefits for our vision.
- Tomatoes provide nutrients that keep our skin soft and flexible and help protect against sun damage.
When you look closely at the nutritional profile of tomatoes, you'll want to have them everyday. Every time you see a tomato, regardless of its color or shape, you'll know that it's a powerhouse of life-promoting and healing phytonutrients.