The tomato is the fruit of the plant Lycopersicon esculentum, and is sometimes called “golden apple“, probably thanks to the varieties of tomato of yellow, orange, and tangerine color.
Regardless of its name, the tomato is a wonderfully popular and versatile food.
It can be found in more than a thousand different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color, from small cherry tomatoes, to bright yellow tomatoes, to pear-shaped and green ones, famous for their fried preparation in South American cuisine.
Only the fruits of this plant can be eaten, as the leaves often contain potentially problematic concentrations of certain alkaloids.
The pulp of the tomato consists of slippery seeds surrounded by a watery matrix.
Although tomatoes are fruits in a botanical sense, they do not have the typical sweetness of other fruits. Instead, they have a subtle sweetness that is complemented by a slightly bitter and acidic taste. They are prepared and served like other vegetables and are often classified among the healthiest foods in the world.
Although tomatoes are available more or less all year round, some of the most delicious are grown in late spring or early summer and ripen from July to September.
Did you know that tomatoes do not have to be a deep red color to be an exceptional source of lycopene? Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of many tomatoes.
What is lycopene for and its properties
A small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange tomatoes can be absorbed better than that from red tomatoes.
Researchers conducted a study, eliminating tomatoes and other foods containing lycopene from the diet of postmenopausal women for a period of 4 weeks, studying the effect of the lack of lycopene on bone health. At the end, the women began to show signs of increased oxidative stress in their bones and unwanted changes in their bone tissue.
The researchers then concluded that removing foods containing lycopene (including tomatoes) from the diet increases the risk of osteoporosis.
It has also been shown that fresh tomatoes or tomato extracts contribute to the reduction of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Only recently are researchers beginning to identify some of the more unusual phytonutrients in tomatoes, with particularly protective efficacy.
The Tomato and Health Benefits
There are literally hundreds of varieties of tomatoes in the world, but we generally always choose the same ones, depending on our preferred tastes, a combination of flavor, texture, and appearance.
In terms of conventional antioxidants, tomatoes provide an excellent amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene; a good amount of the mineral manganese; and a good amount of vitamin E.
This “fruit” is also very useful for reducing the risk of heart disease. There are two lines of research that have repeatedly associated tomatoes with heart health. The first offers antioxidant support and the second involves the regulation of fats in the blood.
The heart and blood circulation are responsible for transporting oxygen, through the lungs, and distributing it throughout the body.
It is worth noting here that conventional vitamin antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C are sometimes overlooked in tomatoes due to the content of unique phytonutrients. Yet, vitamin E and vitamin C are great for the cardiovascular system, and therefore real heart tonics.
The Tomato is at the Center of Attention for Anti-Cancer Benefits.
The risk related to certain types of cancer is linked to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. For this reason, foods that provide us with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements are often foods that show cancer prevention properties.
Prostate cancer is by far the most studied type of cancer in relation to tomato intake.
The jury’s verdict here is clear: lycopene-rich tomatoes can certainly help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.
A key nutrient that has received particular attention in the prevention of prostate cancer is alpha-tomatine, a phytonutrient that has the ability to alter the metabolic activity in developing prostate cancer cells.