Thursday, August 11, 2011

Try Tomatoes this Tomato Season!

With my foray into deck gardening this year, I've had an abundance of fresh delicious cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes, both fresh and canned, are packed with lycopene, beta carotene, lutein, potassium, and vitamins C and A.  They pack a powerful nutritional punch, as all these nutrients have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.  In addition to reducing inflammation, tomatoes also provide the following health benefits:
  • Extra SPF: Studies show that skin becomes less sensitive to UV damage when one increases their lycopene intake.
  • Strong Bones: Studies have found a connection between higher lycopene intake and stronger bones. So have a tomato for your bones!
  • Possible Cancer Protection: The studies are still ongoing, but they hint that the lycopene in tomatoes may be able to prevent or slow the growth of certain kinds of tumors. 

Obviously fresh tomatoes that aren't mealy or otherwise yucky aren't easy to find year-round, especially in New England. However, it's been theorized that the cooking and canning processes may actually increase the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes, so there's no need to avoid the canned variety. Just make sure you get the lower sodium ones!