Thursday, December 31, 2009

Trusty Tomatoes!

Tomatoes may not be in season at the moment, but the great thing about these lovelies is that they are fantastically healthy even in processed, rather than fresh, form. Specifically, the lycopene content of tomatoes is much more concentrated in products such as tomato paste. What is lycopene? It is a type of carotenoid that has great antioxidant and cancer-preventive properties - how great is that! Delicious and nutritious indeed!

Tomatoes are fantastic for colon health, prostate health, pancreatic health, cardiovascular health, healthier cholesterol levels, as well as protecting all cells in the body from free radical damage. They really are a nutritional powerhouse. The key is to consume the food rather than a lycopene supplement, as it is not lycopene alone that does the work, but the whole synergy of all the nutrients found in tomatoes. They work together as a team, so relying on capsules containing only lycopene will not have the same effect.

When choosing products such as tomato sauce, tomato juice, etc., go for the deepest red ones - they have the most lycopene. Organic products are often the best way to go.

Even at this time of the year, it's incredibly easy to integrate lots of tomato goodness into the diet. Use tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, etc. in soups, stews, pasta dishes. Roasted tomatoes are amazingly delicious. Tomato juice, salsa, cherry tomatoes can be used year-round.

When possible, use tomatoes and tomato products that haven't been peeled - as with other fruits and veggies, large amounts of nutrients are found in the peel and more of them are absorbed by the body when the peel is eaten.

Tomatoes are extremely versatile, can be thrown into so many dishes, and even humble organic ketchup delivers some lycopene! Whichever tomato/tomato product you choose, you'll get some great health benefits, along with deliciousness, from it!

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