Tomatoes are among the National Cancer Institute’s “second line of defence” foods (right behind carrots and broccoli) and one of the three richest known sources of the antioxidant lycopene, a potent anticancer carotenoid (also found in red peppers and pink grapefruit).
This, as well as the antioxidants vitamin A and beta- and alpha carotene, may account for the lower stomach cancer rates among tomato-loving Hawaiians, reduced lung cancer incidence in Norwegians and reduced risk of prostate cancer among tomato-eating American males and seniors (who in one study had half the death from cancer of the non-tomato eaters).
Lycopene-rich vegetables like tomatoes are also known to provide protection from cancers of the cervix, bladder, and pancreas. Tomatoes also supply the vitamin antioxidant C and antioxidants P-coumaric, 2-phenol, and chlorogenic acid, which help block the amount of carcinogens formed in the body by nitrosamines. Because of its vitamins A and C and liver-stimulating mineral salts, a daily tomato cocktail is a beneficial way to fight or prevent energy-deficit disorders including chronic fatigue syndrome, hypoglycaemia, anorexia, and mononucleosis. (Season with cayenne pepper or a bit of fresh chilli pepper plus fresh lemon or lime juice for extra punch). A cup of tomato soup or regular gazpacho is good nutritional intervention, say natural healers, for kidney disease.
Because of their iron, vitamin C, and folate content, tomatoes should be included in the diet of every pregnant woman. As a bonus, they supply fibre to relieve the constipation and haemorrhoids common to pregnancy.
Two Warnings: Tomatoes are a common source of food allergens. Common symptoms: hives, headaches, itching. As members of the nightshade family and salidylate bearers, they are contraindicated for the arthritic and the aspirin sensitive.
You also need to know that to get the best out of the tomato you must lightly cook or juice it in order for the nutrients to be most effective.
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