Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)
Botanically a fruit, and technically a berry.
When I was young, I remember having multiple stand offs with my mum over tomatoes. ‘You cant leave until you eat it…” So I would sit there nibbling at it trying not to wretch.
These days I’m known for leaving a trail of tomatoes behind me after a late night snack.
I put tomotoes in/on everything. Pizza ( extra sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms please) ; salad( extra tomotoes- NO PEPPERS); sandwiches (extra tomatoes please) ; on crackers with cheese, with toast. etc
Once in college with a hangover, my friends and I were at a deli getting breakfast rolls. All I could muster was.. “Can I have a breakfast roll but with just tomatoes please?!” The guy behind the counter was like ..What ??
The Mediterranean Diet, the diet of people living in the mediterranean, has been shown to have statistically significant health benefits. Lower cardiovascular disease, lower rates of alzheimers and cognitive impairment.
One of the components is the heavy reliance of fruits vegetables, grains, pulses and nuts and reduced red meat along with olive oil instead of butter and margarine. With respect to tomatoes, adding olive oil allows the body to utilise the nutrients, in the same way that cooking tomatoes and tinned tomatoes increases the availability of key components of tomatoes such as lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
SO whilst fresh fruit and veg is good, a bit of ‘processing’ of tomatoes is also beneficial.
Tomatoes contain Lycopene. This substance has been linked to positive health outcomes.
Cholesterol/Cardiovascular Disease/ Stoke.
Lyopene at an intake of >25gm /day has the same effect on LDL (bad cholesterol) as low dose statins(drugs to treat high cholesterol). That is a lot of tomatoes but increasing tomato intake is beneficial at any amount. Basically antioxidants in the tomatoes such as lycopene, scavenge free radicals(baddies in this case) in the body. This decreases bad cholesterol,LDL, from being oxidised (by the baddies). LDL is then prevented from sticking to the walls of the arteries and clogging them up.
Studies have shown that high levels of lycopene reduced the risk of stroke.
A longitudinal study, was published in the journal Neurology in 2012. This study basically observed people’s dietary intake (without telling them to do anything different) and used lycopene as a marker of tomato and tomato based products and it showed a reduced rate of stroke in those that had higher consumption of tomatoes. (The study adjusted for smokers, people who were over weight etc meaning it took those into account and even still statistically those that ate more tomato type products had less risk of stoke).
A meta-analysis ( a study that looks at loads of other trials and studies) found that a diet rich in lycopene was associated with lower incidence of Prostate cancer.
In an unblinded small randomised control trial, overweight (BMI 25 or over) women were given tomato juice or water. Oxidative stress markers were measured a the end of the study and those that received the tomato juice had lower levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in their blood markers.
1 cup of tomatoes contains – 32 calories, 2.2gm of protein, 5.8 gm of carbohydrate, 0 g of cholesterol. 10 %- 30% Vitamin C, 30% Vitamin A, 18% Vitamin K, as well as calcium, potassium and more.
As with all these blogs, and health advise, it’s about making small changes. The fine margins. We can make little changes, that may not feel hugely significant, but will lead to healthier bodies overall.
Add, extra tomatoes to a side salad in a restaurant, have tomato juice instead of orange juice or soda every so often. Have a Bloody Mary instead of a mojito !!
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