Here we are going to talk about the health benefits of eating tomatoes. Oh how we love our tomatoes -- that is if you like tomatoes. I know some of you do not like tomatoes and I respect your taste and desires. However, I will point out some of the important health benefits of tomatoes and maybe just maybe, this will give some of you who do not care about tomatoes and their health benefits something to think about. Can't help it -- don't these look absolutely delicious?
Well, have you ever hear of lycopene? Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of many tomatoes. Known fact. However, a small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange- and tangerine-colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes. Gee, kinda of a shocker for me ---
Yes, my tomatoes always had to be RED. Now this new study shows that's because the lycopene in deep red tomatoes is mostly trans-lycopene, and the lycopene in orange/tangerine tomatoes is mostly tetra-cis-lycopene, there is a difference in the lycopene health benefit that we get.
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In a recent study, this tetra-cis form of lycopene turned out to be more efficiently absorbed by the study participants. This research is on going and more research is definitely needed in this area. However, this is very interesting, and especially for those who love to eat the orange/tangerine tomatoes and perhaps other varieties of tomatoes, (there are many different varieties). Isn't it great to find that tomatoes may not have to be deep red in order for us to get great lycopene-related benefits. Now how about that!!
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Tomatoes are a great big treasure chest of riches when it comes to their antioxidant benefits. Yes, I know this is again something that we just take for granted. All tomatoes show good antioxidant capacity but thru fairly new research and study there are apparently several different varieties that seem to have a higher average of antioxidant capacity than other varieties. Now this is also very interesting as this study showed that this is true regardless of whether the tomatoes were grown conventionally or organically. The varieties are New Girl, Jet Star, Fantastic, and First Lady. Granted this is only one study and I am sure will be pursued to the fullest. Of course, for years everyone who has planted tomatoes has their own favorites and this is ok.
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Now let's talk about Anti-Cancer Benefits. While not well researched for all cancer types, (let me emphased all types of cancer) tomatoes have repeatedly been shown to provide us with anti-cancer benefits. Since there has been and continues to be on going research on tomato antioxidants, the researchers say that the record for tomatoes as a cancer protective food should not be surprising. There is also a more limited, but still important amount of research on tomato anti-inflammatory nutrients. Yes there is a lot of ongoing research! And, of course this is great for mankind.
Bone health is another area of growing interest in tomato research. Check out Google for many interesting findings.
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Now let's discuss prostate cancer and the health benefit effects of tomato intake. This type of cancer is by far the best researched type of cancer when it comes to the males health and tomato intake. The verdict here is clear: tomatoes can definitely help lower risk of prostate cancer in men. This is very exciting and I'm not sure that most men are aware of the health benefits of tomatoes. Remember, tomatoes can be consumed in many different forms. So make sure your "man" knows about the benefits of tomatoes when it comes to his prostate health.
It is reported that along with prostate cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer are the two best-studied areas involving tomatoes and cancer risk. Did you know this ?? Research on tomatoes and breast cancer risk has largely focused on the carotenoid lycopene, and there is fairly well documented risk reduction for breast cancer in association with lycopene intake.
This is really exciting stuff. Those of us who simply love tomatoes are getting these benefits without really giving it much thought. Of course, there are many, many people who know the benefits of eating tomatoes and do everything they can to grow, eat and preserve this fruit. Yes I said fruit. I know we have a tendency to think of tomatoes as a vegetable, but tomatoes really are a fruit. If you don't believe me look it up on Google.
Beefsteak and beef master tomatoes are among the largest-sized varieties. Roma tomatoes are more of an intermediate size, while cherry and grape tomatoes are small and rounded. Tomatoes are used generally according to a persons like/taste and the function in which they are going to use them. So many sauces contain tomatoes and everyone has their own favorite.
These are cherry tomatoes.
I know that you have heard the term "heirloom tomatoes". It is rather confusing as it can have a variety of different meanings. However in the most traditional sense, "heirloom" refers to seeds from tomato cultivars that get handed down over time from family to family.
Obviously, seeds handed down in this way do not make it possible for tomato production on a very large commercial scale. Yet there are definitely "commercial heirloom" tomatoes in the marketplace (sometimes produced from cross-breeding and sometimes produced through open pollination.) Many people have their own heirloom tomato seeds which they plant every year. These seeds are well guarded and maybe someone will be kind enough to give you some and maybe not.
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As stated earlier, tomatoes are fruits in a botanical sense. They don't have the dessert quality sweetness of other fruits. Instead they have a subtle sweetness that is complemented by a slightly bitter and acidic taste. They are prepared and served like other vegetables, which is why they are often categorized as such, including in the A-Z List of the World's Healthiest Foods. Cooking tempers the acid and bitter qualities in tomatoes and brings out their warm, rich sweetness. Everyone has their own special receipes and many have been handed down from generation to generation.
Now here is another tip: When buying canned tomatoes, it is often better to buy those that are produced in the United States as many foreign countries do not have as strict standards for lead content in containers.
It is important as to how you select and store your tomatoes in order to get the best health benefits. Choose tomatoes that have rich colors. Deep reds are a great choice, but so are vibrant oranges/tangerines, brilliant yellows, and rich purples. And, how about the "green" varieties? Tomatoes should be well shaped and smooth skinned with no wrinkles, cracks, bruises, or soft spots. This is true if you are buying from a store. You will soon learn what to look for. The store bought tomato should not have a puffy appearance since that characteristic is often associated with inferior flavor and may also result in excess waste during preparation.
If the tomato is coming from your own plant you may have some cracks etc. Much of this is due to weather conditions and you will definitely cherish these tomatoes which still have the health benefit desired.
Have you ever had "fried" green tomatoes? If not, you don't know what you are missing.
Tomatoes do not belong in the refrigerator. They should be laid out (not stacked on top of each other) on a counter or flat surface in a cool place. I know we gather the tomatoes in a basket, bucket, or apron, but they should be placed on a clean table,etc. and every few days sorted -- looking for the ripest to be used first. Maybe some should be turned over or around to keep the tomato from becoming soft on one side. Yes, I have placed a plate of sliced tomatoes in the refrigerator to cool them before eating, but I do not store them in the refrigerator!
We all want to enjoy the tomato while they are in season. So come on, try different varieties, varieties of all colors which provide outstanding health benefits and nutrients for our bodies.