You say tomato, I say tomahto – but however you say it, what is rarely recognized is how effective a natural medicine the gold old tomato is.
Free radicals be gone!
One of the best-known health benefits of eating tomatoes is their high Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital antioxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases.
Free radicals in the body can be flushed out with high levels of Lycopene, and the tomato is so loaded with this vital antioxidant that it actually derives its rich redness from the nutrient.
Lycopene is not a naturally produced element within the body and the human body requires sources of Lycopene in order to make use of this high-powered antioxidant. While other fruits and vegetables do contain this vital health ingredient, no other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene that the tomato has.
Cancers such as prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and cancers of the stomach, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus have all been proven to be staved off by high levels of Lycopene.
Researchers introduced Lycopene into pre-existing cancer cell cultures and the Lycopene prevented the continued growth of these cultures. This is pretty powerful evidence that the health benefits of eating a tomato are really quite phenomenal.
It takes as little as 540 milliliters of liquid tomato product to get the full benefits of Lycopene. This means that a daily glass of tomato juice has the potential to help keep a person healthy for life.
Tomatoes as an answer to prevent lung cancer?
New research is beginning to indicate that tomatoes may be used to help prevent lung cancer. Two powerful compounds found in tomatoes-coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid-are thought to block the effects of nitrosamines.
These are compounds that not only are formed naturally in the body, but also are the strongest carcinogens in tobacco smoke. By blocking the effects of these nitrosamines, the chances of lung cancer are reduced significantly.
Put your brain on steroids, er, I mean tomatoes
The tomato has one of the highest glutamic acid content of any vegetable. The quantity of glutamic acid is about 86 – 140 mg per 100 g of tomato. For that reason, tomato is probably considered the most widely used vegetable in cooking.
Glutamic acid (glutamate) is an amino acid used by the body to build proteins. Glutamate is the most common excitatory (stimulating) neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
Glutamic Acid is important in the metabolism of sugars and fats, and aids in the transportation of potassium into the spinal fluid and across blood-brain barrier. Although it does not pass the blood-brain barrier as readily as glutamine does, it is found at high levels in the blood and may infiltrate the brain in small amounts. The brain can use glutamic acid as fuel. It can attach itself to nitrogen atoms in the process of forming glutamine, and this action also detoxifies the body of ammonia. This action is the only way in which the brain can be detoxified from ammonia.
Glutamic acid may help to correct personality disorders and is useful in treating childhood behavioral disorders. It is used in the treatment of epilepsy, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, ulcers, and hypoglycemic coma, a complication of insulin treatment for diabetes. It is a component of folate (folic acid), a B vitamin that helps the body break down amino acids.
The fluid produced by the prostate gland also contains amounts of glutamic acid, and may play a role in the normal function of the prostate. Because one of its salts is monosodium glutamate (MSG), glutamic acid should be avoided by anyone who is allergic to MSG.
All meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, as well as kombu are also excellent sources of glutamic acid. Some protein-rich plant foods also serve as sources. Ninety-five percent of the dietary glutamate is metabolized by intestinal cells in a first pass.
Additional nutritional & health benefits of the tomato
Other nutritional and health benefits of the tomato include its action as a natural antiseptic to prevent infection, and it’s ability to help indigestion, diarrhea, improve liver function, reduce bile attacks and heart disease.
Nicotine acid in tomatoes can also help lower cholesterol and can help impotency and increase the number of sperm and improve sperm motility.
Tomatoes also contain large amounts of Vitamin C, providing 40 percent of the daily value (DV). They also contain 15 percent DV of Vitamin A, 8 percent DV of potassium, and 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron for women and 10 percent RDA for men.
But wait, Dee – Don’t you know that tomatoes cause inflammation and aggravate conditions such as arthritis?
One word. HOGWASH! Ok, so I better back that up, eh? Let’s see what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say. You know who he is, right? Dr. Weil is arguably the leading medical expert (and trail-blazing pioneer) on integrative medicine.
Here is what Dr. Weil has to say about tomatoes causing inflammation: “No, but unfortunately a persistent myth holds that tomatoes cause arthritis. This myth also implicates other nightshade (potato family) vegetables including potatoes, peppers and eggplants. Supposedly, by reducing consumption of these vegetables, arthritis patients can ease their pain.”
He goes on to say, “If you’re interested in making dietary changes that reduce inflammation, and that might help alleviate the pain associated with osteoarthritis, I recommend including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon or another source of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts or freshly ground flaxseed. The spices ginger and turmeric have also been shown to reduce inflammation, and they are best taken as standardized extracts.” You can read his entire article on this here: Toxic Tomatoes?
Alright, I’ll agree that it’s ‘Dr. Tomato’ – But why haven’t I heard of this before?
Why was the tomato not included in Traditional Chinese Medicine? During the ancient time, people thought that tomato was poisonous, especially its bright red pulp.
Today, the tomato is often included in our snacks, meals, drinks and salads. However, many home cooks choose to buy canned tomato sauce, tomato ketchup, tomato paste, tomato juice, etc. for convenience. They don’t realize two things. One, that if a fresh tomato is cooked properly, it can be the main seasoning for a dish. And, two, fresh tomatoes will always have higher levels of beneficial nutrients for your health.
Fun tomato trivia
* The smallest species of tomatoes are less than three-quarters of an inch in diameter. There are both red and yellow varieties.
* Another little known fact is that if you bring a magnet near the tomato, the magnet will repel because tomatoes are 94% water, and water molecules repel magnetic fields.
* Did you know that there are two kinds of tomatoes – one that floats on the water, and one that sinks into the water? The tomato that sinks into the water is tastier because it contains more sugar. Do not judge it by color alone.
* Tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.
* According to the 1996 edition of the Guinness Book of Records the largest tomato ever grown weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
* The largest tomato plant was 65 feet long.
* The tomato is the world’s most popular fruit.
* Botanically, tomatoes are a fruit. This is because, generally, a fruit is the edible part of the plant that contains the seeds, while a vegetable is the edible stems, leaves, and roots of the plant.