Health From the Vine

Tomatoes are nutritional all-stars

Health From the Vine

Rich in antioxidants and a wealth of other nutrients, tomatoes, whether eaten off the vine or gulped down as tomato juice, have amazing health benefits.

There are few fruits that can rival the flavour of a just-picked, ruby red tomato still warm from the summer sun. It turns out they’re hard to beat when it comes to nutrition, too.

Rich in antioxidants; flavonoids; vitamins A, B1, C, and K; manganese; potassium; chromium; and fibre, these jewel-toned fruits also supply impressive amounts of folic acid, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, copper, and vitamin E.

The Whole Tomato

Not surprisingly, regular consumption of tomatoes can benefit your health in a number of ways. Lycopene has been studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. The results are impressive–according to a Harvard Medical School review of 72 different studies, lycopene has been shown to help protect against prostrate, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, mouth, colon, and throat cancer. Researchers believe lycopene may deliver its knock-out punch against cancer by activating detoxification enzymes in the body.

So why not just pop a lycopene tablet? Nutritional scientists have discovered whole food tomato products are significantly more effective at battling cancer than isolated lycopene. They believe it’s the synergy of lycopene with other nutrients naturally present in tomatoes that offers up so much health value.

That health value goes beyond cancer. Tomatoes, it seems, can also help beat heart disease. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of tomato-based foods had a substantially reduced risk of heart disease. When you consider the array of heart-health nutrients in tomatoes, it’s hardly surprising. Folic acid helps lower deadly homocysteine levels (high homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease); lycopene helps break down cholesterol, keeping arteries free flowing; and potassium lowers blood pressure.

One TJ a Day

The good news doesn’t end there. Italian researchers discovered that a daily glass of tomato juice can lower one of the primary markers of inflammation (TNF-alpha) by almost 35 percent in less than one month. Since inflammation is linked to a host of chronic diseases, the findings are particularly significant.

A daily glass of tomato juice will also strengthen your immune system. Several nutrients in tomatoes encourage your body to produce more T cells, white blood cells that attack foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.

Opt for Organic

To reap all the health benefits hidden within, it is essential to opt for organically grown tomatoes. A recent study found that organic tomatoes had 79 percent more flavonoids than conventionally grown produce.

Pasta lovers rejoice–it turns out cooking those organic tomatoes and serving them with olive oil or other sources of healthy fats helps the body absorb more of their health-enhancing antioxidants. Good health never tasted so delicious!

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