In general, tomatoes are a great dietary choice, rich in micronutrients and packed with antioxidants that boost the immune system. But there’s actually another reason to pick up some tomatoes on your next shopping trip – they have a key ingredient that can improve your health and keep you protected from diseases.
Lycopene is the phytochemical that gives tomatoes (and other fruit and vegetable, like red carrots, watermelons or papayas) their red color. This is a natural compound that generally helps plants thrive or thwart competitors and is regarded as having medicinal properties.
It has been described as providing a number of health benefits, from maintaining good eyesight, helping with bone density and strength, promoting good cardiovascular circulation and even attributed anticancer effect.
One of the most comprehensive studies done on lycopene was by a group of Italian researchers and found that Intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products and plasma levels of lycopene, a carotenoid found predominantly in tomatoes, have been relatively consistently associated with a lower risk of a variety of cancers”. The list of malignancies includes lung, stomach, prostate, breast, oral cavity, pancreas, and esophagus cancers.
People that consumed tomatoes or tomato juice about one every two days were noted to have about 40% less chance of developing mesothelioma, one of the most aggressive types of cancer.
What’s great about tomatoes is that you can find them all year long and they are generally quite affordable. Even more, don’t worry if you can’t find them fresh, lycopene is still retained in significant concentration within tomato sauces and ketchup.
If you want a tasty ingredient that will also take care of your health, now you know what to choose.