What better food than tomatoes to discuss this week. The tomatoe can be placed in just about any meal, and prepared in hundreds of ways, including raw, grilled, baked, chopped, and sauteed. The nutritional value is excellent, and a food you need to incorporate into your diet. Below is valuable information on tomatoes. Share these links and think how you can add this wonderful food into your diet.

There are few vegetables that better mark the summer months than the sweet juiciness of a vine-ripened tomato. Although tomatoes are now available year-round, the truly wonderful qualities of tomatoes are the best when they are in season from July through September.

Tomatoes have fleshy internal segments filled with slippery seeds surrounded by a watery matrix. They can be red, yellow, orange, green, purple, or brown in color. Although tomatoes are fruits in a botanical sense, they don't have the dessert quality sweetness of other fruits. Instead they have a subtle sweetness that is complemented by a slightly bitter and acidic taste. Cooking tempers the acid and bitter qualities in tomatoes and brings out their warm, rich, sweetness.
Antioxidant Benefits of Lycopene

In the area of food and phytonutrient research, nothing has been hotter in the last several years than studies on the lycopene in tomatoes. This carotenoid found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. The antioxidant function of lycopene-its ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen damage-has been linked in human research to the protection of DNA (our genetic material) inside of white blood cells. Prevention of heart disease has been shown to be another antioxidant role played by lycopene.

In contrast to many other food phytonutrients, whose effects have only been studied in animals, lycopene from tomatoes has been repeatedly studied in humans and found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. These cancers now include colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. While lycopene may play an important role in tomatoes' health benefits, it seems that it is not the only nutritional star integral for giving this food a red-hot reputation for health promotion; recent research discussed below in the section "Protection Due to Synergy of Tomato's Nutrients, Not Just Lycopene" describes how scientists are finding out that it is the array of nutrients included in tomatoes, including, but not limited to lycopene, that confers it with so much health value. e while, it's still important to understand the many benefits that lycopene provides.

For the most lycopene, choose organic

Organic ketchup delivers three times as much of the cancer-fighting carotenoid, lycopene, as non-organic brands.

Lycopene has been shown to help protect not only against prostate, but breast, pancreatic and intestinal cancers, especially when consumed with fat-rich foods, such as avocado, olive oil or nuts. (This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are absorbed into the body along with fats.)

When Betty Ishida and Mary Chapman at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Albany, CA, decided to investigate whether the lycopene content of purple and green varieties of ketchup was comparable to that of the traditional red, they tested lycopene levels and antioxidant activity in 13 ketchup brands: 6 popular ones, 3 organic and 2 store brands from fast-food chains.

Purple, green and red varieties of ketchup all delivered similar amounts of lycopene (although dark red ketchup contained slightly more), but a major difference was discovered between organic and non-organic brands. Organic ketchups far surpassed their non-organic counterparts' in lycopene content.

One organic brand delivered 183 micrograms of lycopene per gram of ketchup, about five times as much per weight as a tomato.

Non-organic brands averaged 100 micrograms per gram, with one fast-food sample providing just 60 micrograms per gram.

Bottomline: It seems highly likely the same rationale will apply to all tomato products, so, for the most lycopene, choose the deepest red organic ketchup, tomato sauce, juice and other tomato products.

Colon Health

A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in patients with colorectal adenomas, a type of polyp that is the precursor for most colorectal cancers, blood levels of lycopene were 35% lower compared to study subjects with no polyps. Blood levels of beta-carotene also tended to be 25.5% lower, although according to researchers, this difference was not significant. In their final (multiple logistic regression) analysis, only low levels of plasma lycopene (less than 70 microgram per liter) and smoking increased the likelihood of colorectal adenomas, but the increase in risk was quite substantial: low levels of lycopene increased risk by 230% and smoking by 302%.

Prostate Health

Tomatoes have been shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

A 14-month study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute underscores the importance of a healthy whole foods diet rich in tomatoes in the prevention of prostate cancer. In this study, laboratory animals fed a lycopene-rich diet and treated with N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (a carcinogen) and testosterone to induce prostate cancer had a similar risk of death from prostate cancer as rats fed a control diet. In contrast, animals fed whole tomato powder were 26% less likely to die of prostate cancer. By the end of the study, 80% of the control group and 72% of the animals fed lycopene had succumbed to prostate cancer, while only 62% of the animals fed whole tomato powder had died.

In addition to the controls and those animals receiving lycopene or tomato powder, each group was also divided into two sub-groups, one of which was given 20% less food than the other sub-group. Animals on the energy-restricted, tomato-based diet fared best of all, showing a 32% drop in their risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Researchers concluded this was due to the fact that tomatoes contain not merely lycopene, but a variety of protective phytonutrients and suggest that the lycopene found in human prostate tissue and the blood of animals and humans who remain free of prostate cancer may indicate exposure to higher amounts of not just lycopene but other compounds working in synergy with it. Study leader, Dr. Steven Clinton, Ohio State University, commented, "Our findings strongly suggest that risks of poor dietary habits cannot be reversed simply by taking a pill…if we want the health benefits of tomatoes, we should eat tomatoes or tomato products and not rely on lycopene supplements alone."

In an accompanying editorial, Peter H. Gann, of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University in Chicago, and Frederick Khachik, of the University of Maryland, College Park, remarked that this study supports those who advocate whole foods in the debate about whether cancer prevention is best achieved with whole foods or concentrated single compounds. They point out that carotenoids and other phytonutrients evolved as sets of interacting compounds, and that this complexity limits the usefulness of reductionist approaches that seek to identify single protective compounds.
Tomato, ripe
1.00 cup
180.00 grams
37.80 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin C 34.38 mg 57.3 27.3 excellent
vitamin A 1121.40 IU 22.4 10.7 excellent
vitamin K 14.22 mcg 17.8 8.5 excellent
molybdenum 9.00 mcg 12.0 5.7 very good
potassium 399.60 mg 11.4 5.4 very good
manganese 0.19 mg 9.5 4.5 very good
dietary fiber 1.98 g 7.9 3.8 very good
chromium 9.00 mcg 7.5 3.6 very good
vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.11 mg 7.3 3.5 very good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.14 mg 7.0 3.3 good
folate 27.00 mcg 6.8 3.2 good
copper 0.13 mg 6.5 3.1 good
vitamin B3 (niacin) 1.13 mg 5.6 2.7 good
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.09 mg 5.3 2.5 good
magnesium 19.80 mg 5.0 2.4 good
iron 0.81 mg 4.5 2.1 good
vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 0.44 mg 4.4 2.1 good
phosphorus 43.20 mg 4.3 2.1 good
vitamin E 0.68 mg 3.4 1.6 good
tryptophan 0.01 g 3.1 1.5 good
protein 1.53 g 3.1 1.5 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%