Tomatoes

I never liked eating tomatoes when I was young. I started liking them in my late teens. And last year, I had the most awesome tomato soup in a hotel in Kerala! How random. But then again, I haven’t tried many because I don’t go to a restaurant and order tomato soup.

So, let’s see all the goodness of tomatoes that WHFoods can tell us about:

  • Lycopene – a carotenoid found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) – studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. Prevention of heart disease has been shown to be another antioxidant role played by lycopene. They’re found to be protective against a growing list of cancers which include colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
  • For the most lycopene, use the Whole Tomato (with peels) and choose organic
  • Organic ketchup delivers 3 times as much of the cancer-fighting carotenoid, lycopene, as non-organic brands. Also, choose the deepest red organic ketchup, tomato sauce, juice and other tomato products for high lycopene levels.
  • Lycopene has been shown to help protect not only against prostate, but breast, pancreatic and intestinal cancers, especially when consumed with fat-rich foods, such as avocado, olive oil or nuts. (This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are absorbed into the body along with fats.)
  • Tomatoes and Broccoli Team Up to Fight Prostate Cancer. They’re even more successful against prostate cancer when working as a team in the daily diet, shows a study published in Cancer Research.
  • Cooked tomatoes may be better than raw tomatoes as chopping and heating make the cancer-fighting constituents of tomatoes and broccoli more bioavailable.
    • Practical Tips: While the phytonutrients in tomatoes become more concentrated when they are cooked into a sauce or paste, and more bioavailable when eaten with a little oil, those in broccoli will be greatly reduced if this vegetable is overcooked. Steam or healthy sauté broccoli no more than 5 minutes.
    • Also, broccoli’s cancer-preventive compounds form after it has been cut, but heat denatures the enzyme necessary for this process. For optimal nutrient formation, cut broccoli florets in half or into quarters, depending on their initial size, and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking.
    • Serving Ideas:
      • Healthy sauté broccoli and onion, then add to your favorite breakfast omelet and serve with grilled tomatoes.
      • Enjoy a bowl of tomato soup along with a salad including broccoli florets for lunch.
      • Add lightly steamed broccoli florets to the tomato-paste toppings on your favorite pizza.
      • Healthy sauté broccoli florets along with other favorite vegetables, such as onions and mushrooms, add to pasta sauce and use to top whole wheat pasta or brown rice.
      • For a quick snack, serve raw broccoli florets along with the carrot and celery sticks, dip and crackers, and toast your prostate’s health with a glass of tomato juice.
  • Tomatoes and Green Tea Team Up to Prevent Prostate Cancer. Other lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables – tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava. Regular consumption of both green tea and foods rich in lycopene resulted in a synergistic protective effect, stronger than the protection afforded by either, the researchers noted.
    • Practical Tips:
      • Get in the habit of drinking green tea and eating lycopene-rich foods. Take a quart of iced green tea to work and sip throughout the day or take it to the gym to provide prostate protection while replenishing fluids after your workout.
      • Pack a ziploc bag of apricots and almonds in your briefcase or gym bag for a handy snack.
      • Start your breakfast with a half grapefruit or a glass of papaya or guava juice.
  • It is especially important when cooking tomatoes to NOT use aluminum cookware since their high acid content will interact with the metal. This may result in the migration of the aluminum into the food, which will not only impart an unpleasant taste, but more importantly, may have deleterious effects on your health.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

  • To make your own tomato paste, simply healthy sauté a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and/or 1-2 large chopped onions a couple of minutes until translucent, then add 8-10 chopped whole tomatoes, a teaspoon of dried or several teaspoons of fresh chopped oregano, basil, and any other herbs you enjoy, such as parsley or rosemary, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drizzle with olive oil, and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. For a fancier version, sauté chopped olives and/or mushrooms along with the garlic and onions.
  • Tomatoes are a great addition to bean and vegetable soups.
  • Enjoy a classic Italian salad-sliced onions, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.
  • Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers for an easy to make salsa dip.
  • Purée tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and scallions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make the refreshing cold soup, gazpacho.
  • Add tomato slices to sandwiches and salads. To keep things colorful, use yellow, green and purple tomatoes in addition to red ones.
  • Begin lunch or dinner with some spicy tomato juice on the rocks with a twist of lime.
  • Snack on tomato crostini: in the oven, toast whole wheat bread till crusty, then top with tomato sauce, herbs, a little grated cheese, and reheat until the cheese melts. Top whole wheat pasta with olive oil, pine nuts, feta cheese and a rich tomato sauce for lunch or dinner.
  • While drinking 13.5 ounces of plain tomato juice every day may seem a bit challenging, enjoying a cup of tomato juice with lunch, a cup of hot tomato juice into which an ounce of tomato ketchup has been stirred along with some freshly ground pepper as an afternoon “soup” break, and/or a Virgin Mary (the alcohol-free counterpart to the Blood Mary) before dinner would provide some taste diversity along with the amount of tomato products effective in the research.
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