Let's Talk Tomatoes
The tomato is a highly nutritious fruit that is often thought of, and treated as, a vegetable due to its versatility and culinary use in both raw and cooked states.
Tomatoes are a rich source of phytonutrients most significantly beta-carotene and carotenoids including lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which studies have shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as effective in fighting prostate cancer.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, together with vitamin A (beta-carotene), support eye health and can slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Tomatoes are also rich in immune-boosting vitamin C and cardioprotective potassium.
While raw tomatoes are best consumed during the tomato season (Summer to early Autumn), we need not miss out on the health benefits during the winter. Cooking with tomato puree, tomato paste, passata and preserved whole or diced tomato (in glass or tins) can provide all the health benefits of fresh tomatoes
and maybe more….
3 top tips to maximise the health benefits of tomatoes.
1. Cooking tomatoes increases their disease-fighting power. Studies have shown that cooking tomatoes increases lycopene content, enhancing the nutritional value of the tomatoes.
2. Add olive oil. Adding olive oil to tomatoes during the cooking process improves the absorption of the carotenoids, making them more available for use by the body.
3. Leave the skin on. Consuming whole cherry tomatoes including the skin, pulp and seeds, whether fresh or tinned, ensures that you get the full health benefits of the 3 main carotenoids.