Although most people consider them vegetables, tomatoes are actually the fruiting body of a plant belonging to the nightshade family. Tomatoes have been extensively researched for their health effects and found to be significantly beneficial. In particular, tomatoes have been shown to contain the carotenoid lycopene. Like all carotenoids, lycopene is a pigment and gives the fruit a characteristic colour, in this case red. The lycopene is contained within the cells of the tomato fruit and so it is necessary to crush the cells open by chewing or macerating, or by cooking to soften the cellulose. This increases the bioavailability of lycopene and can increase the health effects from eating tomatoes. The beneficial effects of lycopene include a reduction in the rate of certain cancers, and a general antioxidant effect that may protect from a number of lifestyle diseases including cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. One downside of tomatoes is that intolerance is common, so care needs to be taken if they result in gastrointestinal issues.
Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself