I love tomatoes. They are, hands-down, one of my favourite foods (along with beetroot). I still remember the best one I ever ate at a crummy guesthouse at the base of Mt Sinai some 20 years ago. The bench-mark of all tomatoes eaten since.
What then about the health benefits of tomatoes?
According to a UK study, men who consume more than 10 portions of tomatoes each week, reduce their risk of prostate cancer by about 20%.
The Bristol team analysed the diets and lifestyles of around 20,000 British men aged between 50 and 69.
They found men who consumed more than 10 portions of tomatoes each week – such as fresh tomatoes, tomato juice and baked beans – saw an 18% reduction in prostate cancer risk.
Eating the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables (or more) a day was also found to decrease risk by 24%, compared with men who ate two-and-a-half servings or less.
All hail lycopene
The cancer-fighting properties of this humble fruit are thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which can protect against DNA and cell damage.
Lycopene is a bright red pigment that is naturally found in the human liver, serum (blood), adrenal glands, lungs, prostate, colon and skin, at higher levels than other similar pigments.
It’s not just for men;
Researchers have recently found an important connection between lycopene, its antioxidant properties and bone health.
Intake of tomatoes has also long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have also been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The extra good news is that it doesn’t seem to make much difference to the health benefits whether they are cooked or raw.
To that end, here is a recipe I highly recommend you try. I made this at our recent in-clinic talk and even those who don’t generally like a cold soup, thought it was ‘winning’.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil
5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Squeeze of raw honey
¼ cup lemon juice
Salt to taste
Blend with ½ cup of water until smooth.