Friday, July 25, 2008

Health benefits from some varieties of vegetables and fruits – Tomatoes

· A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lynchpin and are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Tomatoes, which are actually a fruit and not a vegetable, are loaded with all kinds of health benefits for the body. They are in fact, a highly versatile health product and due to their equally versatile preparation options, there’s really no reason to neglect the tomato as part of a healthy diet.

Tomatoes are a member of the deadly nightshade family, and as such were considered toxic, causing many conditions like appendicitis, “brain fever” and cancer. In fact, they may have just the opposite effect. Tomatoes were not even eaten in the US until the early 1800s, when an eccentric New Jersey gentleman Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson brought them back from a trip overseas. Always one to take advantage of a dramatic opportunity, he announced an amazing display of courage would take place on September 26, 1820. He shocked his hometown of Salem by consuming and entire basket of tomatoes in front of a crowd of spectators, expecting him to keel over any second. Obviously, he didn’t and since then tomatoes have been a staple of the American diet and with good reason.

The red pigment contained in tomatoes is called lycopene. This compound appears to act as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that can damage cells in the body. Only recently, studies have revealed that lycopene may have twice the punch of another well-known antioxidant beta carotene. Studies conducted by Harvard researchers have discovered that men, who consumed 10 servings of tomatoes a week, or the equivalent to 10 slices of pizza, can cut the risk of developing prostate cancer by a formidable 45 percent. However, its benefits are not limited to the prostate. Italian researchers have found that those who consume more that 7 servings of raw tomatoes lower the risk of developing rectal colon or stomach cancers by 60 percent. Israeli researchers have found that lycopene is a powerful inhibitor of lung, breast, and endometrial cancer cells. Research has also indicated that the lycopene in tomatoes can help older people stay active longer.

New research is beginning to indicate that tomatoes may be used to help prevent lung cancer. Two powerful compounds found in tomatoes-coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid-are thought to block the effects of nitrosamines. These are compounds that not only are formed naturally in the body, but also are the strongest carcinogen in tobacco smoke. By blocking the effects of these nitrosamines, the chances of lung cancer are reduced significantly.

Modern science knows that food provides vitamins, minerals and calories for energy, but does it believe that food offers any real medical treatments? Take the case of tomato, a powerhouse of nutrition. It contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals that act to support health.

Nutritive values of tomato per 100 gm, Vitamin A 1000 IU, Vitamin B Thiamine .06 mg, Vitamin C 23 mg, Vitamin K amount still uncertain, Calcium 11 mg, Iron 6 mg, Phosphorous 27 mg, Potassium 360 mg, Protein 1.0 mg, Calories 20. Still more when starting with the basics, tomatoes contain large amount of vitamin C providing 40 percent of the daily value [DV]. They also contain 15 percent of Vitamin A. 8 per cent DV of potassium, 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance [RDA] of iron for females and 10 percent RDA for men.

Tomato is considered one of the richest of all foods in vitamins. It is very rich in all three important vitamins like A, B and C while most vegetables are deficient in one or more. Vitamin A plays an important role in vision, fighting infection and bacteria, maintaining skin and body linings, bone and body growth, reproduction, and normal cell development.

The B vitamins are very important to maintain good health. A deficiency of Vitamin B6 can raise a person’s risk of heart disease. Evidence also indicates that about 40 percent of heart attacks and strokes may be caused by a deficiency of folic acid, another important B vitamin.

Vitamin C is needed by the body to form collagen and fiber for teeth, bone, cartilage, connective tissue, skin and capillary walls. It helps in fighting bacterial infections. It may also protect against declining mental ability and stroke. Vitamin C of tomatoes is not destroyed by heat and therefore they are practically valuable for all sorts of stomach and liver troubles.

Lycopene is now recognized as a powerful substance in the fight against cardiovascular disease. One study investigated close to 40,000 women and their dietary habits, which revealed that the consumption of 7 to 10 servings of lycopene-rich tomato products produced a 29 percent lower incidence of cardiovascular disease compared to women consuming the lowest amounts. This result was increased to 34 percent when women consumed two servings a week of tomato products that contained oil. It also helps in good and clear vision and is necessary for proper growth of bones and tooth development.

When choosing your tomatoes, be sure to pick those with the most brilliant shades of red. These indicate the highest amounts of beta carotene and lycopene. Raw tomatoes are great for you, cooking them releases even more of the benefits. Lycopene is located in the cell wall of the tomato, so by cooking in a bit of oil, this healing compound is more fully released. In addition cooking the tomato in olive oil allows your body to absorb the lycopene better. Don’t worry about the availability of fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes don’t lose any of their nutritional value in the high heat processing; making canned tomatoes and tomato sauce are both just as viable and beneficial as fresh tomatoes.

Eating a balanced diet containing vegetables and fruits is considered the best way of ensuring good health. Vegetables are not just tasty and nutritious, but they also enhance the immune system of our body. One vegetable which most of use extensively, but do not pay much attention to is the tomato.

One of the most well known tomato eating benefit is its' Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases.

Free radicals in the body can be flushed out with high levels of Lycopene, and the tomato is so amply loaded with this vital anti-oxidant that it actually derives its rich redness from the nutrient.

Lycopene is not a naturally produced element within the body and the human body requires sources of Lycopene in order to make use of this powerful anti-oxidant. While other fruits and vegetables do contain this necessary health ingredient, no other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene that the tomato takes pride in.

· Large consumption of tomato can help improve skin texture and color.

· Tomato is a good blood purifier.

· Tomato helps in cases of congestion of the liver (protects the liver from cirrhosis) as well as for dissolving gallstones.

· Tomato is a natural antiseptic therefore it can help protect against infection.

· Nicotinic acid in tomatoes can help to reduce blood cholesterol thus helps prevent heart diseases.

· Vitamin K in tomatoes helps to prevent hemorrhages.

· Tomato contain lycopene (the red pigment in tomato), this pigment is a powerful antioxidant that can also fight cancer cells.

Tomatoes are equally as nutritious fresh as they are in other variable forms. When tomato products are heat processed the bioavailability of the Lycopene actually increases rather than the anticipated decrease.

Even with all the plentiful research that has gone into the health benefits of tomatoes, there is still more research being conducted as the medical science community understands that we have not fully tapped into the potential presented by a tomato just yet.

Research is now slowly proving that there is a high likelihood that the consumption of tomatoes and tomato based products actually may prevent serum lipid oxidation and reduce the risk of macular degenerative disease.

Tomatoes are by far the healthiest of the fruits and vegetables with the power to ward off some of the worst known diseases to man. With the vast variety of tomato products on the market, it really shouldn't be difficult to get the full health benefit of tomatoes.

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