Tomatoes

Food
Tomatoes

The tomato, or “golden apple” in Italian, is a summer must. Originally from Central America, it was introduced to Europe in the 16th century. It belongs to the large Solanaceae family, which includes eggplants and peppers, without forgetting the potato of course. Contrary to popular belief, botanists consider it to be a fruit, resulting from the development of the pistil of the flower. In France, it can be harvested from June to September. Summer fare by excellence, it is bursting with vitamins and nutrients.

Nutritional information

The tomato is the fruit that contains the most lycopene, and its nutritional virtues lie principally in this “miracle” molecule. An anti-inflammatory, this antioxidant can counter the free radicals (1) that cause certain cancers, such as cancer of the prostrate (2) or colon. Lycopene, as well as the other carotenoid (3) and flavonoid acids found in the tomato also help eliminate “bad” cholesterol in the blood and thus reduce the risk of cardio-vascular diseases (4). Moreover, lycopene is particularly important for women: without a daily intake of this precious molecule, bone health deteriorates in less than four weeks. The tomato is therefore a valuable ally in the fight against chronic conditions (5) such as osteoporosis or degenerative diseases associated with old age (6).

How to cook and taste tomatoes

When it comes to cuisine, we are all familiar with the red tomato of course, but there is also a whole variety of green and yellow tomatoes that have the same nutritional properties and which are all just as delicious: variety is the spice of life! It has recently been shown that concentrated tomato sauces or sauces with tomatoes as the main ingredient are richer in antioxidants than fresh tomatoes (7): you can use and abuse of them in all your recipes throughout the year! (8) Favor sauces however with natural ingredients and no artificially added sugar or salt.

If you eat fresh tomatoes, prefer organically grown tomatoes if available , to be sure to get the maximum nutritional values. We recommend that you dice your tomatoes and eat them fresh with a few drops of olive oil to help your body absorb the lycopene (9). It will give flavor to all your original light salad recipes such as basil-strawberry-advocado. Star vegetable in provincial cuisine, tomatoes go extremely well with zucchinis, peppers, onions and eggplants in your ratatouilles, sauces and cold soups. Don’t forget the classic stuffed tomato: tomatoes keep all their nutritional qualities even when oven-baked!

Sources: passeportsanté ; whfoods ; marmiton.
References : (1) Takeoka GR, Dao L, et al. Processing effects on lycopene content and antioxidant activity of tomatoes. J Agric Food Chem 2001 August;49(8):3713-7. (2) Barber NJ, Barber J. Lycopene and prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 2002;5(1):6-12 (3) Khachik F, Carvalho L, et al. Chemistry, distribution, and metabolism of tomato carotenoids and their impact on human health. Exp Biol Med (Maywood ) 2002 November;227(10):845-51. (4) Arab L, Steck S. Lycopene and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 June;71(6 Suppl):1691S-5S. (5) Agarwal S, Rao AV. Tomato lycopene and its role in human health and chronic diseases. CMAJ 2000 September 19;163(6):739-44. (6) Mackinnon ES, Rao AV, and Rao LG. Dietary restriction of lycopene for a period of one month resulted in significantly increased biomarkers of oxidative stress and bone resorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Feb;15(2):133-8. 2011. (7)Gartner C, Stahl W, Sies H. Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. Am J Clin Nutr 1997 July;66(1):116-22. (8) Renfroe MH, Brevard PB, Montgomery JR. Antioxidant content varies in fresh and processed tomato products. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2004;104(suppl.2):A-49. (9) Frohlich K, Kaufmann K, et al. Effects of ingestion of tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato puree on contents of lycopene isomers, tocopherols and ascorbic acid in human plasma as well as on lycopene isomer pattern. Br J Nutr 2006 April;95(4):734-41.

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