|Alternative medicine: Tomato |
Sat, 31 May 2008 17:55:07
By Patricia Khashayar, MD.,
Tomatoes are not only heart healthy but can also fight several types of cancer and help develop healthy teeth, bones, skin and hair.
Botanical: Lycopersicon lycopersicum
Family: N.O. Solanaceae
Synonyms: Lycopersicon, pomme d'amour, pomodoro
Tomatoes are perennial vines, typically reaching 1-3m in height. The fruit botanically classified as a berry has fleshy internal segments filled with seeds and a watery matrix.
The tomato's predominant colors are red, yellow and green; however, purple and brown ones are also produced. They range in size from small cherry tomatoes to medium plum/roma tomatoes to large slicing/beefsteak tomatoes.
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Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other vitamins like A, B1, B2, B6, E, K and niacin.
They are rich in molybdenum, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, copper, phosphorous, manganese, dietary fiber and chromium. In addition, tomatoes contain small amounts of nicotine (coumaric and chlorogenic acid).
Containing only 20 calories, they are a good source of lycopene, beta-carotene and several other carotenoids.
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants which play a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system and fighting against infection.
Due to their high content of lycopene (a powerful anti-oxidant) and phytonutrients, tomatoes lower the risk of prostate, colorectal, pancreatic and stomach cancers.
The consumption of tomatoes with fat-rich avocado, nuts and olive oil increases the fruits anti-cancer properties.
Eating tomatoes and broccoli together has shown better results against prostate cancer.
Two powerful compounds found in tomatoes, coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, are thought to block the effects of nitrosamines, thus reducing the risk of lung cancer.
The tomato's high antioxidant content prevents from inflammation and the progression or severity of atherosclerosis, diabetic complications and asthma.
The tomato's high potassium content makes it an effective stroke preventer and lowers blood pressure.
The vitamin K found in tomatoes helps maintain healthy bones by activating osteocalcin, a protein which anchors calcium inside the bones. It also helps prevent hemorrhages.
Tomatoes are acidic, so they may upset the stomach in individuals with gastrointestinal discomfort.
Individuals with high cholesterol levels, those whose work involves traveling long distances, those who have recently undergone a surgical procedure and smokers benefit from this fruit.
The blood thinning effects of tomato juice are noteworthy for individuals at higher risk of blood clot formation.
A tomato-rich diet helps improve skin texture and color.
Tomatoes help in liver congestion (cirrhosis) and gallstones.
The nicotinic acid in tomato can help reduce blood cholesterol and prevent heart diseases. A high dietary intake of tomato products helps lower LDL and cholesterol levels.
Its high chromium content helps control blood sugar in diabetics and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetics.
Tomatoes are heart-healthy because their vitamin B6 and folates are needed to help the body convert homocysteine, a potentially dangerous chemical, into other benign molecules. High levels of homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Tomatoes can also fight chronic degenerative ailments such as atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease.
Tomatoes are a good source of riboflavin, which helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
Using a whole tomato is more recommended as it contains more lycopene.
Bright red tomatoes have the highest amounts of beta-carotene and lycopene. Cooking tomatoes in oil especially olive oil helps the body absorb more lycopene.
It is important not to cook tomatoes in aluminum cookware since their high acid content will interact with the metal causing deleterious health effects. It should be noted that cooking and canning do not reduce the nutritional value of tomatoes.
The tomato plant's leaves contain toxic alkaloids.
Tomatoes are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions including eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity and insomnia.
Individuals who suspect food allergy to be an underlying factor in their health problems should not use this fruit.
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