The Health Benefits of Tomatoes-Get Growing!

Starting with the basics, tomatoes contain large amounts of vitamin C, providing 40 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).  The red pigment in tomatoes is called lycopene.  Lycopene acts as a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the body from free radical damage.  Several studies suggest a diet rich in lycopene offers a significant reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer and may offer protection against other cancers such as lung, breast, colorectal, esophageal, cervical, and oral. Furthermore, research indicates that lycopene may promote heart health. The vitamins A, C, and E in tomatoes also act as antioxidants.  We know that antioxidants neutralize the damage of free radicals and provide anti-aging benefits.

 

Additional health benefits include:

  • Tomatoes are rich in vitamin K, a bone-building vitamin.
  • The fiber in tomatoes aids in healthy digestion and weight loss, and the lutein promotes healthy eyes.
  • Recent studies boast that the liquid around the seeds of the tomato has anti-clotting properties much like aspirin, thereby reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke.
  • The tomato is low on the glycemic index, therefore no spikes in insulin levels. 
  • Tomatoes are very low in calories, one medium-sized tomato contains approximately 25 calories.
  • Fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes contain more vitamin C than cooked tomatoes as the cooking process destroys some of the vitamin C.  However, cooked or processed tomatoes contain higher concentrations of lycopene! I have also read that eating or cooking tomatoes with a small amount of healthy fat or oil increases the body's absorption of lycopene.
  • There are several studies (and of course heated debate) suggesting organically grown tomatoes contain higher levels of antioxidants.  Regardless, nothing, and I mean nothing, tastes better than home grown organic tomatoes straight from the garden.  Eating them raw, cooking, or canning them…there's nothing better!

 

For rookie gardeners with limited space, I highly recommend growing tomatoes in a container.  Several people have asked me recently what my thoughts are on the topsy-turvy container.  I decided I would give this trendy option a try for myself.  I simply placed an organic cherry tomato plant in the container, filled it with a mix of organic soil and compost, then gave it a good drink of water.  Even though I am not thrilled about the "container" material, I do like the fact that the container can be used over and over again.  If growing in this container is easy and will get the masses experiencing successful gardening, then I'm all for it!  It seems logical to me that growing plants off the ground will also greatly reduce the exposure to insects and plant diseases, a critical issue for organic gardeners.

 

 Topsy

Stay tuned…I'll let you know how it's growing. 

 

 

Learn more about Stacy Walters, RKT at www.fittogarden.com

 

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