Tomato: The Everday SuperFood

 
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Eating more tomatoes daily could make you healthier, protect your skin from sun damage and lower your risk of contracting modern diseases, according to a review of more than 100 studies.

A large body of evidence already links the consumption of tomatoes and tomato products with lower rates of cancer, especially prostate, but a recent review published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine highlights potential new selling points for this luscious red fruit: better skin, bone and brain health.

Tomatoes in action

The tomato provides such star nutrients as vitamin C, vitamin A (as beta-carotene), fibre and potassium. But it’s the uniquely high offering of lycopene and other such phytonutrients that makes it a superfood. Tomato is the richest source of lycopene in our western diet.

Lycopene is a strong antioxidant with a potency many times greater than vitamin E!

Tomatoes and tomato products also provide anti-inflammatory, antiblood clotting effects, as they are nature’s capsules of multiple active ingredients.

How much should you eat?

In studies of prostate cancer patients, peak blood concentrations were attained within three months of taking lycopene supplements, reaching a plateau that did not differ significantly among doses of 15–90 mg per day. While earlier studies focused on lycopene supplements, recent evidence shows it’s best to use the whole tomato and a 15-mg daily dose may be good to aim for. How can you obtain this from foods?

Processing tomatoes and cooking them with a little oil helps increase absorption of lycopene and other carotenoids into the body.

Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas,” is a key recommendation in the new US dietary guidelines.

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Sue Radd is one of Australia's leading nutritionists and health communicators. She also advises law firms, providing expert nutrition reports for use in court cases.