Tomatoes for Health

 Tomatoes provide more vitamins to Americans than any other vegetable.  Each tomato is a rich source of iron, potassium, phosphorus, folic acid, beta carotene, vitamins A, E, and C, plus lots of fiber, yet it contains only 35 calories and no cholesterol. 
      Whether eaten fresh or cooked, vine ripened tomatoes are the healthiest.  The tomatoes harvested green in the field and gassed with ethylene in the truck on their way to the supermarket do not compare.    Although beta carotene is well known for its role in eye health, more than 500 carotenoids can be found in plants.  Lycopene,  the  carotenoid pigment that give the tomato its redness, is a powerful cancer fighting antioxidant and is also thought to help prevent heart disease.   Studies have shown lycopene’s effectiveness in reducing the risk of developing cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach.  Studies are also being conducted to test if lycopene may help prevent cervical, breast, pancreatic, colorectal, and esophageal cancers.
     Lycopene, along with vitamin C and beta carotene are concentrated in processed tomato products.  An ounce of puree has three times the lycopene, twice as much C, and a fifth more beta carotene than an ounce of fresh tomato. Tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, tomato soup, tomato juice, and canned tomatoes are all rich lycopene sources.
   Lycopene is absorbed by the human body best when ingested in combination with a healthy fat like canola or olive oil, increasing its good effects up to 15 times.

 In addition to its anti-oxidant qualities, lycopene is also a powerful hydrator that will help smooth out the wrinkles and brighten your skin.

   Therapeutic benefits are lost refrigerating tomatoes or storing them in direct sunlight.   

 Include the peel in the meal as often as possible because it is loaded with phytonutrients.  Researcher have found that it is the synergy of lycopene with these phytonutrients that fights cancer cells.  Lycopene by itself is ineffective.   Hence taking a lycopene supplement is not the same thing as eating a tomato. 


    A new innovation in health food was Petoseed's 1999 introduction of Health Kick tomato which contains 50% more lycopene than other tomatoes.   The 3 to 5 oz plum-shaped saladette tomatoes grow on a determinate plant that only reaches 4 ft. high.  Expect high yields of bright red tangy fruits  beginning in only 72 days after transplanting. 
    In addition to its health benefits gardeners are reporting that Health Kick Hybrids  are very resistant to the devastating spotted wilt virus, and the tomatoes are great for cooking up a chunky sauce.