Priuk’s Weblog

September 19, 2008

TOMATO

Filed under: Health — priuk @ 3:38 pm
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Some people categorize this plant as vegetables, but some others categorize it as fruits. We often make juice from it, but it is also delicious as cooking ingredients. Either way tomatoes own special benefits for human’s health. Find out more about it in the article.

Tomatoes are actually a fruit, not a vegetable because technically they are berries, with seeds, of a plant that bears fruit. However, nutritionally, popularly, and culinary use, they are categorized as a vegetable. It is said that the fruits are originally from Central, South, and southern North America from Mexico to Argentina. With Latin name Licopersicum esculentum, tomatoes are also known as the all-seasons fruit; the kind of fruit that can be found in all seasons.
Tomatoes are available in a wide variety of types, colors, shapes and sizes. Mostly they come in the colors of red, yellow, and green, but they do have variety in other colors. Tomatoes’ sizes range from about 1-2 centimeters in diameter, 4-5 centimeters in diameter, and 10 centimeters or larger. The shapes are usually round, but sometimes come in other shapes, such as the oblong shape of roma tomatoes.

NUTRIENTS AND HEALTH BENEFITS

No matter what the types or varieties are, tomatoes contain almost the same amount of nutritional substances. They are rich with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, mineral, fiber, and phytonutrient substances. The main content of tomatoes is water (about 94%).

Tomatoes also contain antioxidant. One of the substances contained in tomatoes has been a “hot” topic to talk about. It is the lycopene. This carotenoid found in tomatoes (and products made from tomatoes) has been studied extensively for its antioxidant and cancer preventing properties. Research and studies about lycopene from tomatoes has been conducted repeatedly not only in animals but also in humans. The researches claimed that they had proven the substance can protect body from many kinds of cancers, such as prostate, colorectal, pancreatic, breasts, and lung.

However, this claim has an opposite opinion. Scientists from Food and Drug Administration in United States of America proclaimed that presumption of the lycopene from tomatoes can prevent cancers must be straightened. There is no strong evidence that foods or other intakes contain lycopene, which also the substance responsible for giving the red color to the fruits will reduce the risk of getting exposed to many kinds of cancers. This finding is reported by Dr. Claudine Kavanaugh and her colleagues from The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA, College Park, Maryland, in her paperwork that was published on the website of US Cancer institute.

This does not mean that tomatoes have no benefits at all. Related with this issue, another research suggested that there many substances contained in the fruits that can give health benefits for humans, not only the lycopene, for example, the vitamin A and vitamin C found in tomatoes. Public must have aware with the benefits this two vitamins can provide to our health. Tomatoes also contain fiber. Many sources stated how fiber has been shown to reduce high cholesterol levels, keep blood sugar levels stable, and help prevent colon cancer.

One research done and led by Dr. Howard Sesso found tomatoes’ cardiovascular benefits. The result of Dr. Sesso’s research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research found that women highest intake of lycopene-rich-tomato-based foods had significantly reduced the risk of heart disease.

Tomato juice can reduce the tendency of blood clotting. This is claimed by Australian research. In the study, twenty people suffer from type 2 diabetes were given 250 ml of tomato juiced or a tomato-flavored therapy daily. The people who were subjects of the study had no history of clotting problems and did not take any medications that would affect blood clotting ability. After 3 weeks, the clumping together of blood cells (platelet aggregation) was significantly reduced among those drinking real tomato juice. However those who received the tomato-flavored therapy were not affected at all.

Tomato seeds are also very useful. One research conducted in Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland found the benefits of tomatoes seeds for health. As quoted by a health magazine, Prevention, Asim K. Dutta-Roy, the researcher found that the slippery layer in the form of yellow mucous around the tomato seeds actually contain a very effective compound to fight stroke and heart disease. Dutta-Roy said, if we regularly drink tomato juice without throwing the seeds away, then we have reduced around 72% of the risk of blood clotting, which is one of the causes of heart-attack.

Tomatoes are also good for the skin. Researchers from University of Manchester and University of Newcastle discovered that adding five spoons of tomato pasta to the daily diet of 10 volunteers can help preventing skin damage by giving protection against the affect of ultra-violet ray. The damage affected by ultra-violet ray can cause early aging, and even skin cancer.

So, start consuming tomatoes regularly from now on. However, once again keep it moderately, not too much. Anything that too much will not give good affect, don’t you agree?

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