What’s New and Beneficial About Tomatoes
- Our longstanding focus on whole fresh foods led us to a recent study on home cooking of cherry tomatoes, and we found the results to be fascinating. In this study, cherry tomatoes were cooked for 20 minutes in boiling water, which is actually much longer than the recommended way of cooking them that we feature on our website. However, the topic being investigated by the researchers—how key carotenoids in these tomatoes were affected by this heating process—is one we are always wanting to learn more about. Lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene were the carotenoids measured in this study, and importantly, they were measured when the pulp alone was boiled, when the skin alone was boiled, and when the cherry tomatoes were boiled but left intact. Interestingly, the researchers found lycopene to be far more stable in the pulp of the tomatoes than in the skin; they reasoned that this stability came from the chemistry of the pulp matrix in which lycopene was bound up together with proteins. However, what caught our eye in the study findings was the trend toward better retention of the carotenoids as a group in whole cherry tomatoes versus cherry tomato pulp or cherry tomato skin. Overall, these three carotenoids were definitely better preserved when the cherry tomatoes were left in whole form. While this result was not surprising, it was a great reminder about the unique benefits available to us from foods that have been minimally processed and enjoyed in a form that is close to their whole, natural form.
- Researchers have long been aware of improvements in the absorption of food carotenoids when oils like extra virgin olive oil are included in a recipe or meal that features carotenoid-rich foods. Since tomatoes definitely count as a carotenoid-rich food, it was not surprising for us to find this topic being investigated in recent studies. But we were nonetheless excited to come across a study that took the investigation one step further. Researchers headquartered at the University of Barcelona looked at consumption of three versiosn of tomatoes —raw tomatoes, cooked tomato sauce made without olive oil, and cooked tomato sauce made with olive oil. Over the course of several months, study volunteers met with researchers once each month and were given special dietary instructions about consuming one version of the tomatoes. Several indicators of inflammatory response were then measured by the researchers, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1). Study results showed that while all three versions of the tomatoes were able to lower these inflammatory markers, tomato sauce prepared with olive oil did a better job of lowering them than either raw tomatoes or tomato sauce free of olive oil. And the researchers concluded that this combination of tomatoes with olive oil was likely to provide greater health benefits, especially in the area of cardiovascular health. Of course, many of our recipes at WHFoods feature this combination of tomatoes and olive oil in cooking—not only for potential health benefits but also for spectacular taste.
- Given the outstanding combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients in tomatoes, the potential of tomato consumption to support our cardiovascular system and lower our cardiovascular risk has long been on the radar screen of health researchers. One team of researchers recently gathered together 21 studies that looked at tomatoes and cardiovascular disease and analyzed them as a group to try and formulate some conclusions about the cardio-related benefits of this food. What they found was a repeated and significant ability of tomato intake to lower LDL cholesterol levels and improve the responsiveness of the blood vessel walls (as measured by endothelial flow-mediated dilation, or FMD). The amount of tomato consumed by participants in the 21 studies ranged from 70–400 grams per day, or about 1/3–2 cups’ worth of fresh sliced tomato. The period of intake in these studies ranged from just one day to six months. So, what we are looking at here is a fairly modest amount of tomato consumed over a relatively short period of time: a very “do-able” combination in most meal plans! Our World’s Healthiest Foods Meal Plan, for example, averages 1/3 cup of tomato per day, which brings our daily meal plan average into this health benefits range.
- While we do not usually highlight food research that features animals versus humans, we were intrigued by a recent study on mice that examined tomato intake and risk of skin cancer. In past human studies, tomato and tomato products—especially tomato paste—have been shown to provide health benefits following unprotected sun exposure. Specifically, researchers have found tomato consumption to result in less skin redness after UV exposure from sunlight. In addition, they have found that food forms of tomato (like tomato paste) do a better job of lessening the impact of sunburn than purified tomato-based nutrients like lycopene (which are taken in the form of dietary supplements). Carotenoids like beta-carotene have long been known for their ability to get deposited in skin cells, where they are known to play a protective role including improved protection from excessive UW light. (In cases of very high carotenoid intake—for example, resulting from very large amounts of carrot juice intake on a daily basis—we can also see the presence of these carotenoids in our skin in the form of an increased yellow-orange tone that is temporary, non-threatening, and technically referred to as carotenodermia.) In this recent study on mice, the animals were given whole tomato powder from two different varieties of tomato—one red-colored variety and one tangerine-colored variety. Consumption of both tomato powders was determined to affect skin cell metabolism and to lower risk of skin cancer development. Specifically, the researchers measured a form of skin cancer called keratinocyte carcinoma (sometimes more loosely referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer), and found the occurrence to be reduced in the mice consuming the tomato powder. The study authors found several different carotenoids to be central in providing this health benefit, including lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene, and neurosporine. They also found tomato alkaloids like tomatine and tomatidine to play a role in this decreased skin cancer risk. At WHFoods, we view these findings as helpful in understanding the relationship between skin health and food intake, and they suggest the potential for tomato intake to reduce risk not only of sunburn in humans but risk of certain human skin cancers as well. It’s also interesting to note that mice in this study consumed about 1.5–1.75 milligrams of total carotenoids per ounce of food. Since the 1-cup serving of fresh tomato on our website provides a little over 1 milligram of total carotenoids per ounce, we are talking about a study amount that is not very far from the ordinary amount provided in a food plan by everyday foods like whole tomatoes.
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₹275.00Product HighlightsAASHIRVAAD Select is a premium quality atta made from the King of Wheat. It is 100% MP Sharbati wheat which is…
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