Nutritional Benefits of Tomatoes

One of my favorite things to do on a summery Saturday morning is to can tomatoes. I have a batch of crushed tomatoes on right now.

I love the smell, the rows of home-canned jars lining my pantry and the taste of summery tomatoes in the dead of winter.

 

Tomatoes are bursting with nutritional value – vitamin C, a little calcium, some fiber and lycopene. Lycopene has been purported to help decrease the risk of prostate problems so it’s commonly added to multivitamins targeted towards men. You can also purchase lycopene as an individual supplement.

 

There’s a catch though (there’s always a catch, right?) – most of the research showing lycopene is beneficial towards prostate health was in food products. Men who eat more foods containing lycopene (tomatoes mostly, also watermelon and some others) tend to have better prostate health than men who eat less foods containing lycopene. The problem with putting lycopene in supplements is that we don’t have the research to know if taking it in supplementsis as good as eating lycopene-rich foods. Will it hurt to take a multivitamin that has lycopene?  No, probably not.

 

 

In America, most of our lycopene consumption is through tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes don’t allow for good absorption of lycopene, but cooked tomatoes transforms the lycopene form to one much more absorbable. Looking at your grocery store shelves, there are many options for cooked tomatoes: ketchup, canned tomatoes in many forms, tomato paste, and tomato juice.

 

So, go enjoy those summer-fresh tomatoes. Or, better yet, enjoy some cooked tomatoes sometime soon.

 


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