With more than 80% concentartion on Lycopene in their paste, tomatoes are not just a humble veggie that enhaces the flavor of our spaghetti and pizza or complements our sandwiches and salads but, they are also a powerful natural antioxidant which protects our bodies from the formation of free radicals, known to cause different types of cancer.
In recent years, researhers went a step further analyzing more the benefits of the regular consumption of tomatoes and found that the combination of Lycopene, Lutein and Vitam C in natural tomato juice was capable of enhancing eye vision and blocking the high levels of the detrimental hormone DHT, which along with high levels of testosterone leads to prostate cancer.
Tomatoes: the super food in your fridge!
Tomatoes are the second most popular vegetable around the world, after potatoes, due to their versatile usage, since they can be consumed raw, cooked, in sauces, salsas, in cold dishes and salads, even as cold soups and as beverage! In many countries globally, tomatoes are considered a fruit rather than a vegetable but, since their level in natural sugar is too low in comparison to fruit, they have been categorized widely as vegetables. In any case, what brings tomato under the microscope is its two powerful antioxidant incredients, Lycopene and Lutein that belong to caritenoids family and are scientifically proved that each one of them plays an important role in the prevention of prostate cancer and eye vision, respectivelly.
Lycopene plays important role in the prevention of prostate cancer
Lycopene is a phytonutrient, meaning that it can be found in plants, and belongs to the family of carotenoids, which help plants to absorb the light and protect their chlorophyll from dangerous uv radiation. This catotenoid pigment is what gives tomato its red color, however, not all red fruit and vegetables contain lycopene. For example, strawberries are a great source of vitamin C but not a source of Lycopene. On the other hand, carrots, red cabbage, watermelon and grapefruit are good sources of Lycopene, even though they don’t reach the same concentration levels as tomatoes.
A study published in the National Center of Biotechnnology Information found that Lycopene has the ability to interrupts signal pathways which cause tumors to grow more, reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
We studied the effect of the potent dietary antioxidant lycopene on multiple points along the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) signaling pathway in prostate and breast cancer cells. Lycopene significantly inhibited prostate and breast cancer cell growth at physiologically relevant concentrations of ≥1.25 μM.
But the studies don’t stop here. Another study that included 46.719 men showed significant lower risk of prostate cancer after increasing intake of lycopene.
We aimed to examine associations between estimated lycopene and tomato sauce intake and the risk of prostate cancer defined by ERG protein expression subtype. Our study population consisted of a prospective cohort of 46,719 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study…During 23 y of follow-up, 5543 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, among whom 884 were assayed for ERG.With inclusion of only the latter cases, increasing cumulative average tomato sauce intake was associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer overall. source:NCBI
Cherry tomatoes are the most concentrated on Lycopene but, you can also take it from the natural tomato sauce. I point the word ”natural”, because many claim that the simple ketcup bought from supermarkets does the same job. Even though the ketchup bottle says 100% natural tomato juice, there is no commercial product 100% natural because it has to be preserved with one way or another for at least 6-8 months without losing its taste! If you take a closer look on different ketcup bottles, you’ll notice that a ketsup is not certainly based on tomato paste only. It may contain vinegar, garlic, onions, sweeteners, powder like mustard and other flavors…The only natural product you can consume is the homemade one and, no it doesn’t take much time; you just peel the tomatoes, remove their seeds put them in blader and you have your tomato juice full of all the nutrients in less than 3 minutes! If you choose to cook the juice for a while to make a more concentrated sauce, you’ll get much more lycopene, as the excessive water tomatoes contain will have been evaporated but, keep in mind that the more you cook tomatoes the more you diminish the vitamin c, so 10 minutes is a preferable cooking time to take high levels of lycopene and of course, the second important element, Lutein!
Lycopene and Lutein your powerful allies for healthy eyes!
The second important caritenoid substance we take from tomatoes is Lutein. This antioxidant is believed to block the blue light of the Sun from reaching the underlying structures of retina and prevent any damage in our vision. What’s more, the combination of Lycopene and Lutein protects our eyes from free radicals and oxidative stress keeping away cataract and macular degeneration which is responsible for blindness in elderly.
Lycopene, a nutritional antioxidant, was evaluated for its anticataract potential to further establish its role in cataract prevention.Only 9% of the eyes in the test group developed dense nuclear opacity as opposed to 83% in the control group. A significant delay in the onset and progression of galactose cataract was observed with oral feeding of lycopene. Only 35% of the eyes developed mature cataract as opposed to 100% in the control group…Lycopene protects against experimental cataract development by virtue of its antioxidant properties, and it may be useful for prophylaxis or therapy against cataracts.
Toxicity, precautions and how to choose the right tomatoes
Neither Lycopene nor Lutein have been referred to cause toxicity incidents however, lots of tomato consumption may cause diarrea and, to people with gastroesophageal reflux may cause heartburn or vomiting. In rare cases, tomatoes caused an alergic reaction to people with low tolerance in grass pollen. As for choosing the right tomatoes, the first thing you have to do is to see their shape. If the tomatoes you choose are in perfect round shape with deep red color and when you cut them you see dark green gelly-seeds, you probably choose the genetically modified ones! I plant and harvest tomatoes for the last six years and i can assure you 100% there is no perfect round shape! Tomatoes rank on the top 10 list with the highest levels of pesticide residue but this should not prevent you from consuming this precious vegetable. Just prefer either organic tomatoes or preferably buy them from smaller local producers. Planting your own tomatoes is an even better solution, both for your pocket and your health!
A beauty tip for ladies and gentleman!
As it happens with many other fruit and vegetables, tomatoes do not have only one role to play. Tomatoes are not only used as food but as face mask as well!
Tomato juice is the best natural bleaching for skin!
Due to its antioxidant properties, tomato juice makes up for the perfect face mask for those who want to clean clogged pores and repair the skin damage caused by smoking! But, what most people don’t know is that tomatoes light up the skin tone making it look brighter and younger! You only need two things; fresh tomato juice (1 tomato is fine) and a cotton ball. Apply the juice with the help of cotton on your face and massage gently. Leave it on your skin for 15-20 minutes until it dries then, remove it with water and…voila! Your complexion looks brighter and more fresh, doesn’t it? Nice tip, eh? Keeping applying this mask once a week and it will do wonders to your skin, especially to darker complexion. Another use of this mask is after sunburn. If you remained under the sun for more than expecting and now you suffer from sunburns, your best bet is to prepare a fresh tomato juice (always peel tomatoes and remove the seeds), put it in the fridge for a while to chill then, apply it directly on your skin. It will alleviate your pain and reduce the redness in just a few minutes!
If you didn’t like tomatoes so much, now it’s time to change your mind and see for yourself that no matter how ”humble” fruit and vegetables may seem, they are always full of important nutrients and by keeping a well balanced diet will make a world of difference for your health!