Rich in antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals, the tomato is an ally of our well-being. How to make the most of its virtues
You say tomato and think of pasta. Or to pizza. Which are delicious but not always so perfect for our well-being. While the tomato is. This flaming red fruit, which we usually consider a vegetable, is a true concentrate of beneficial substances .
Here we take care of all its nutrients, which we get by eating it. But knowing that it is also fantastic for external use : smooth and silky skin, tamed hair, sunburn under control, it can be a real beauty kit.
Go ahead po modoro, in all sauces - literally! By choosing the best and perhaps least known varieties , to prepare an amazing puree and knowing that as regards industrial products, starting from 25 August 2018 all the packages of tomato derivatives must show the identity card on the label .
But let's go back to the naked and pure fruit. Here's what it gives us.
Lycopene for the heart
Let's start with the best known, lycopene , which many will have heard of due to the numerous studies related to its health effects. It is a colored pigment that gives the tomato its beautiful red color and is also found in other vegetables: watermelon, blood orange, red and pink grapefruit, papaya etc. Why is it so valuable? Because it protects against cell aging and degenerative diseases , especially those of the heart and blood vessels. Lycopene is in fact a carotenoid with a strong antioxidant action , which reduces the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the vessels (fat deposit ed) and therefore the cardiovascular risk "explains expert Krizia Ferrini, contacted as a nutritionist of the SmartFood project at IEO ( European Institute of Oncology) of Milan.
Better cooked or concentrated
Raw tomatoes, especially ripe ones, are a good source of lycopene. But to better absorb this carotenoid it is preferable to eat them cooked , smoothed or in juice. For example, tomatoes stewed for about twenty minutes, the classic puree , sauces and concentrate . "The bioavailability of lycopene is 2-3 times greater in the sauce and over 20 in the tube preparation compared to raw tomatoes" says Krizia Ferrini. The reason? "Because the heat degrades the rigid cell wall of lycopene and facilitates its assimilation by the body. The same effect is obtained with blending. But there is also another trick , adding olive oil to tomatoes ( better extra virgin). Lycopene is a lipophilic molecule, which binds to fats : therefore it dissolves well in the oil and is absorbed in greater quantities ". Our tomato sauce with a drizzle of oil is therefore perfect or, for something different, a fresh gazpacho with slices of avocado, rich in good fats.
Beta-carotene for the skin
Tomatoes are good for the heart but not only. They are also a cure-all for skin and vision health . Thanks to vitamin A, or rather its precursor beta-carotene , a carotenoid that is talked about a lot especially in summer, because it protects the skin from the sun's rays and promotes tanning. In fact, beta-carotene is transformed by the body into vitamin A , which is precious for cell membranes and mucous membranes as well as essential for the proper functioning of the retina. This already formed vitamin is found only in foods of animal origin so tomatoes should not be missing in the diet of vegans.
Few calories, lots of water and vitamins
Are you on a diet? Tomatoes, very rich in water (94%), are also low-calorie (less than 20 calories per 100 g) and diuretics ; without forgetting the richness of vitamin C , especially of ripe ones, minus the salads. Remember that both A and C are thermolabile vitamins, which are damaged by heat: to make a good supply, therefore, it is better to eat raw vegetables, which are also rich in potassium .
" Dried tomatoes deserve a special mention, as they have a different concentration of minerals due to drying" says Ferrini. "They are an excellent source of calcium , phosphorus and also of iron : to make the latter easier to absorb, it is advisable to add a few drops of lemon juice or small pieces of zest , because Vitamin C increases their bioavailability. A recipe to prepare them can be dried tomato hummus, a light variant of the classic chickpea-based sauce ".
Tumors: protective effect for some types
Finally, the protective effect of tomatoes against tumors, in particular that of the prostate , has been confirmed by the latest scientific studies. Thanks to lycopene, the risk is lowered. In addition, the tomato is very rich in fiber (1 / 100g), protective against colon and breast cancers.
Keep an eye on seasonality
The tomato is therefore so rich in benefits that it fully deserves the definition of superfood . The only contraindications are for those with allergy problems because the family to which it belongs, that of the Solanaceae, can be allergenic: in fact, pediatricians do not recommend it to children before the year . Attention also to the acidity of the tomato: if on the one hand it promotes digestion, on the other it is not suitable for those suffering from gastritis. Returning to the benefits, to fully enjoy them it is important that the tomatoes are in season , of local varieties , rather than imported and grown in greenhouses. "It has been seen that our typical cultivars, the Dop and Igp but also other less known ones, have a higher concentration of micronutrients " concludes Krizia Ferrini. So tomatoes yes, but not all year round.