The nutritional arsenal of fresh and cooked tomato products should not be underestimated. By making tomatoes a daily staple of your diet, you’ll boost heart health, fight oxidative stress, protect against a number of cancers, and combat inflammation. Don’t miss out on this easy and inexpensive way to take your health and recovery to the next level.
Meet the Nutrients
Tomatoes are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Powerful nutrients that stand out are vitamin C and carotenoids, including lycopene. Vitamin C is well known for its role in wound healing and immune system support. Carotenoids are important antioxidants that destroy harmful free radicals, slow the progression of atherosclerosis, and protect against certain types of cancers. Cooked tomato products—such as soups and sauces—offer more potent lycopene than fresh tomatoes. The cooking process makes it easier for the lycopene to seep out of the cells of the tomato, resulting in better absorption into your body.
Tomato and Spinach Omelet
Preheat a pan coated with 2 tsp. of olive oil. Beat together 6 egg whites and pour over the hot pan. Toss in a handful of fresh spinach leaves and ½ diced tomato when the eggs begin to set. When the eggs are mostly cooked, flip one side of the omelet over and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with a small bowl of oatmeal.
Turkey, Tomato, Mozzarella Sandwich
Toast two slices of 100% whole-wheat bread. Fill sandwich with 4 ounces of turkey breast, 1 slice of low-fat mozzarella cheese, and a few tomato slices. For extra flavor, add spicy mustard.
Fresh Salsa With Veggies
You can usually buy fresh salsa in the refrigerated section of your supermarket (often near the hummus section). Dip in celery, baby carrots, and bell pepper slices. This portable snack is very low in calories but high in flavor.
Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup
In a saucepan, add 1 cup of low sodium canned crush tomatoes and ½ cup skim milk. Bring to a boil and add 1 tbsp. reduced fat Parmesan cheese, ½ tsp. basil, ½ tsp. oregano, and ¼ tsp. garlic powder. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. This pairs well with a grilled chicken salad.
• Cooking tomatoes with a little olive oil may help increase the absorption of carotenoids during digestion.
• Tomatoes contain potassium, an electrolyte that helps maintain fluid balance. Eating a diet that’s high in potassium also helps maintain low blood pressure.
• Tomatoes may help protect against type II diabetes.
• The lycopene found within tomatoes may help prevent prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, upper digestive tract cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
• New research suggests that tomatoes may help protect against the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.
• Lycopene can battle “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.