Food Spotlight: Tomato

The tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum, syn. Solanum lycopersicum) is an herbaceous, usually sprawling plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are its close cousins tobacco, chili peppers, potato, and eggplant.

Tomato’s healthy attributes

Antioxidants

Lycopene is the most important antioxidant component in tomato, which can protect human cells and repair damaged cells.  According to a Harvard Medical School study in 1995, diets rich in tomato sauces appear to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.  Another study in Israel discovered that lycopene can inhibit cancer cells from developing in breast, lung and womb.

Fresh tomato contains more than 380 phytochemicals (plant- or fruit-derived chemical compounds). Glutathione (GSH) helps detoxification and protects cells; lycopene increases natural killer cell activity and reduces the rick of heart diseases, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and bladder cancer.

Vitamins

Beta-carotene and gamma-carotene in tomato are believed to enhance the function of the immune system, prevent vision loss and retinal oxidation. Vitamin C and E protects cells against free radicals, lowers the risk of heart diseases and slows aging.

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