Is it a fruit? Or is it a vegetable? Well, does it matter? Tomatoes are definitely one of those amazing things that you can eat raw and also add to almost anything you make! It is also very easy to grow in your garden thus ensuring organic fruits free of chemicals. It is packed with nutrition too. Here are some of the health benefits you get from eating tomatoes.
It helps with:
· Healthy Skin: Tomatoes make your skin look great. Beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, helps protect skin against sun damage. Tomatoes' lycopene also makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles.
· Strong Bones: Tomatoes build strong bones. The Vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes are both very good for strengthening and repairing bones. Lycopene also has been shown to improve bone mass, which is a great way to fight osteoporosis.
· Fight Cancer: Tomatoes are a natural cancer fighter. Lycopene (again!) can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal, prostate and ovarian cancer. Tomatoes' antioxidants (Vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage.
· Blood Sugar: Tomatoes can keep your blood sugar in balance. Tomatoes are a very good source of chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar.
· Vision: Tomatoes can improve your vision. The Vitamin A that tomatoes provide can improve vision and help prevent night blindness. Recent research shows that consuming tomatoes may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious and irreversible eye condition.
· Hair: Tomatoes will even make your hair look better. The Vitamin A found in tomatoes works to make hair strong and shiny. (Sorry, tomatoes cannot help much with thinning hair - but they will make the hair you have look better!)
· Prevent Kidney Stones and Gallstones: Tomatoes can help prevent kidney stones and gallstones. Some studies suggest that kidney and gall stones are less likely to form in people who eat tomatoes without the seeds.
· Chronic Pain: Tomatoes can reduce chronic pain. If you are one of the millions of people who deal with mild to moderate chronic pain (such as from arthritis or back pain), tomatoes may be a pain-buster. Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are known anti-inflammatory agents. Chronic pain often involves chronic inflammation, so attacking the inflammation is a good way to fight the chronic pain. (Many commercial drugs that fight pain are actually anti-inflammatory drugs.)
· Lose Weight: Tomatoes can help you lose weight. If you are on a sensible diet and exercise plan, build lots of tomatoes into your everyday eating. They make a great snack and can be used to "bulk up" salads, casseroles, sandwiches and other meals. Because tomatoes contain lots of water and fiber, they are what weight watchers calls a "filling food," - one of those foods that fills you up fast without adding a lot of calories or fat.
Add sliced tomatoes to your sandwiches, chopped tomatoes in salad, use marinara or tomato sauces on pasta; this can be big calorie savings when you swap out creamy sauces for tomato-based sauces, drink tomato juice or vegetable juice with tomatoes, top scrambled eggs with coarsely chopped tomatoes or eat tomatoes as a mid-afternoon snack! It is best eaten raw!
Tomato soup is also something I enjoy very much. Here is a simple recipe that I follow:
1 ½ kg of tomatoes (quartered)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 cup diced onions
1/4 teaspoon chillie flakes
2 cups of chicken stock
Preheat oven to 250 Celsius.
Arrange tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until edges begin to wrinkle and juices release.
In a saucepan put some oil then add the diced onion and cook till they are tender, about 4 minutes.
Add chillie flakes to saucepan and then the tomatoes and juices, toss to coat. Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, about 10 minutes.
Blend it in batched and strain through a coarse sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Season with salt and pepper.
You can serve it hot or chilled, to your preference.