Tomat (oe) or tomat (a), fruit or vegetable? Call it what you will but the lovely red tomato is one powerful food item that really packs an anti-cancer punch.
It’s called Lycopene; a carotinoid, a pigment that is found in tomatoes, red carrots, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruit, guava and certain other red colored fruits and vegetables. When lycopene is consumed as a supplement, it doesn’t have the same effect as eating a whole tomato which also contains beta-carotene, vitamin C and phenols, The synergy of this combination is what really packs the anti-cancer one-two.
Lycopene is water soluble meaning your body will absorb it easier when heated with oil. Toss warmed tomatoes with a TBSP of olive oil and spices before pouring over your favourite whole grain or rice pasta. Blend your tomatoes into a sauce or soup or eat stewed on the side.
Lycopene has strong antioxidant properties, which means that it helps to remove free radicals from your body. Free radicals can harm cells and DNA and are thought to cause many different types of cancers, and other diseases as well as some signs of aging. Free radicals can result from smoking, alcohol, excessive sun exposure and exposure to pollution. They are also a by-product of natural metabolic functions.
As lycopene isn't used by the body in other ways, it is left to mop up free radicals. For example, lycopene can collect in the tissues of the lungs, and '"quench" free radicals there, stopping them before they can damage the cells. Lycopene is thought to be particularly effective in preventing prostate cancer, but it may also be effective in preventing lung, stomach, breast and endometrial cancers. Lycopene may be able to provide internal protection from damaging sun radiation and thus helps to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. It is also thought to help prevent heart disease.
Lycopene is non-toxic and although it is not an essential nutrient for human life, it doesn't appear to do much harm in higher doses. At worst, people who have excess lycopene in their blood will turn an orange color, but limiting consumption generally returns the skin to normal in a few weeks.
That’s a tomato a day, an apple a day, a piece of seaweed and flax seed a day. It’s a good thing I’m hungry all the time.