It's gardening season in the U.S. and therefore no surprise tomatoes are beginning to appear in gardens across the land. Given the right conditions, they are easy to grow and highly productive plants. There is nothing quite like eating a ripe, garden-grown tomato right off the vine, and tomatoes are great additions to salads and sandwiches. The health benefits of cooked tomatoes, which are amplified when combined with a healthy fat like olive oil, continue to make news.
This gives me the opportunity to underscore the value of lycopene to your diet. You may already know the lycopene content of tomatoes is increased when you cook them. Now, new research out of Spain indicates cooking tomatoes not only enhances the positive effects lycopene has on your beneficial gut bacteria, but also promotes increased lycopene absorption in your gut. These are just two more reasons to include tomatoes in your diet.
When you reach for a tomato you may be interested to know organic ones are thought to be more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. One study found growing tomatoes according to organic standards produced tomatoes containing 55 percent more vitamin C and 139 percent more total phenolic content than their conventionally grown peers.
According to The World's Healthiest Foods, tomatoes are an excellent source of lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin C, which is most concentrated in the jelly-like substance surrounding the seeds. They also contain good amounts of vitamins K and B, as well as copper, manganese and potassium. In addition, tomatoes possess anticancer properties and phytonutrients such as the flavonols kaempferol, quercetin and rutin, in addition to caffeic acid, coumaric acid and ferulic acid.
The benefits of lycopene, the carotenoid antioxidant responsible for the red color of tomatoes and other fruits like watermelon, gets top billing as one of the most important nutrients in tomatoes. Lycopene is well-known as a powerful antioxidant that decreases your risk of cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is also notable because:
Its antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than hundreds of other carotenoids, including beta-carotene
A meta-analysis pooling results from more than 116,000 subjects revealed lycopene intake may reduce your stroke risk by nearly 20 percent.
Lycopene plays an important role in your bone health.
Its also been shown to be helpful in treating lung cancer and prostate cancer (more on that below)
When consumed daily with olive oil for 10 weeks in the form of tomato paste, it was shown to reduce ultraviolet-induced sunburn by about 40 percent.
Article Source: Dr Mercola at Mercola.com