By Funke Oshifuye
Tomatoes are a treasure of riches when it comes to their antioxidant benefits. In terms of conventional antioxidants, tomatoes provide excellent amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene; a very good amount of manganese; and a good amount of vitamin E.
Dietary intake of fresh tomatoes have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems such as atherosclerosis.
This is because it contains unusual phytonutrients like esculeoside and chalconaringenin that provide us with these heart-protective benefits.
Specific antioxidant nutrients found in tomatoes, whole tomato extracts, and overall dietary intake of tomatoes have all been associated with antioxidant protection. These nutrients provide better antioxidant protection and prevents oxygen damage to fats in cell membranes or in the bloodstream.
Tomatoes are very rich in lycopene. Due to antioxidant properties, lycopene helps with bone health. Inadequate intake of lycopene-rich foods may also lead to oxidative stress of their bones and unwanted changes in their bone tissue. High intake of lycopene has also been shown to reduce risk of breast cancer.
The lycopene from orange and tangerine-coloured tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than lycopene from red tomatoes.
That’s because the lycopene in deep red tomatoes is mostly trans-lycopene, and the lycopene in orange/tangerine tomatoes is mostly tetra-cis-lycopene. So your tomatoes do not have to be a deep red colour to be an outstanding source of lycopene.
Foods that provide us with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support are often foods that show cancer prevention properties. High intake of tomatoes can definitely help lower risk of prostate cancer in men.
This is because it contains alpha-tomatine, a saponin phytonutrient and it has shown the ability to alter metabolic activity in developing prostate cancer cells.
It has also been shown to trigger programmed cell death in prostate cancer cells that have already been fully formed. Tomatoes are also excellent sources of vitamin A as well as bone-healthy vitamin K. They are a very good source of enzyme-promoting molybdenum; heart-healthy potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, and dietary fibre.