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‘Super-food’ is a buzz word in nutrition; there’s always that new, exotic plant with amazing health benefits. While adding many of these prized foods into your diet isn’t a bad idea, many of us don’t realize how exciting the health benefits of a few of the common and inexpensive foods we eat are. With that said, this article and the following “common super-foods series” will give you insight into the health benefits of many common fruits, vegetables, roots and spices as well as tips on how to incorporate them into your routine.
Tomatoes are one of the most commonly consumed vegetables, used for an array of popular dishes, from pasta sauce to bruschetta to salsa, and so on. Tomatoes are both cheap and can be purchased through local farmers markets, making them an environmentally and economically friendly food option. On top of being highly nutrient dense, with an array of minerals and vitamins, tomatoes also contain an up-and-coming power house nutrient, lycopene, which has an impressive spectrum of health benefits.
Evidence is accumulating on lycopene’s protective effects on many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer, with amazing anti-inflammatory actions; it is currently a hot area for modern nutritional research. For example, consuming 30mg through processed tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce, was demonstrated to significantly enhance an individual’s blood antioxidant capacities. It has also been shown to prevent cancer cell growth in a dose-dependent manner and is particularly effective at reducing risks for sex-hormone related cancers (e.g. breast and prostate cancer). Moreover, it was seen to reduce the aggressiveness of tumor development in a number of cancer types.
Lycopene is a fat-soluble pigment carotenoid, responsible for the red pigment of tomatoes, with incredible antioxidant activity that is higher than any of the other carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene). Since it’s fat-soluble, lycopene is best absorbed when tomatoes are eaten with some sort of oil (e.g. olive or coconut oil). It is also more efficiently absorbed after some sort of processing (e.g. blending) and cooking.
Tomatoes are both nutritious and delicious and can be easily incorporated into your diet. What gets better than sides of salsa, tomato sauce, or one of my favorites, bruschetta? Here are 6 amazing and easy recipes to help you incorporate more tomatoes into your day to day routine!
Tomatoes are easy to incorporate into the foods you eat; there is really no reason for you to miss out on this power house food!