Properties and Benefits of Tomatoes: For many of us, summer is synonymous with the sweet freshness of perfectly ripe tomatoes. I, for one, cannot imagine eating anything else on a hot summer day and even thinking about their earthy aroma makes me crave a few slices. Fortunately, nowadays tomatoes are available almost all-year round, though it is best to eat them when they are in season in order to get the most of the health benefits they have to offer us.
Rich in vitamins A and C, tomatoes are particularly good for our eyesight and immunity, but also skin. Their lycopene content adds to their antioxidant value. But more than a decade ago, tomatoes were seen as average vegetables, sweet and fresh indeed, but not worthy of much attention from a nutritional point of view. However, things have changed significantly since then and reasearchers now show a growing interest in the health benefits of the plain tomato.
Recent research suggests that tomatoes are potent natural detoxifiers and amazingly efficient in preventing some forms of cancer. These wonder-attributes rely on a powerful natural substance found in tomatoes, called lycopene. This substance is said to prevent prostate, stomach and urethral cancer due to the fact that our body naturally stores lycopene in those specific areas.
In addition to this, tomatoes are known to considerably lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol and help keep our blood pressure within normal limits. Tomatoes also contain a less known, yet incrediby potent antioxidant called glutathione, with strong detoxification properties. Glutathione is highly efficient in fighting off the infamous free radicals and preventing cancer.
Tomatoes contain good amounts of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate intracellular fluid and is a downright great for our heart. Most heart problems are caused by a high sodium intake and a low potassium intake. Those of you with a heart condition, read carefully: when your body gets enough potassium, your heart muscles start beating regularly (which means no more heart rhythm problems), fluid levels become balanced so high blood pressure goes down and circulation improves significantly.
So, cut down on the salty foods and eat some potassium-rich tomatoes (or bananas or potatoes). Think about this: tomatoes are red – the color of blood – so they are god for the heart. Tomatoes also boast a good manganese content. Manganese is a great antioxidant dietary mineral mineral used by our body to detoxify superoxide free radicals, playing a great part in the prevention of oxidation stress and chronic disease.
Tomatoes also have considerable amounts of vitamin C (as you can see in the nutritional table above) which is by far the most potent natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. In addittion to this, they are rich in vitamins K and A, essential for bone health and good vision. Last but not least, they also have beta-carotene, a potent natural substance which our body turns into vitamin A and uses as a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene, also responsible for the red color of tomatoes and found in generous amounts in them boasts similarly strong antioxidant properties.
And here’s something you might find interesting: nowadays, tomatoes seem to have lost some of their sweet flavour. If you want the genuine sweet taste of tomato, try looking for those varieties that are a bit green on top.
The light green colour is indicative of sweeter varieties, even more delicious than cherry tomatoes and is a sign that the tomatoes have not been cross-bred to ripen in an even red colour. But no matter what variey you prefer, always choose tomatoes that look fresh, shiny, are firm and have a sweet taste and a delicious earthy smell.