Why eat tomatoes?
We think of tomatoes as a summer food, but there are plenty of reasons to continue eating lots of tomatoes throughout the winter months. As with all highly coloured fruit and veg, tomatoes are packed with vitamins, particular A, C and E. They also contain high levels of potassium and flavonoids which act as anti-inflammatories. Tomatoes can also help when we are trying to lose weight as they are full of vitamin C and phytonutrients which are both important in burning up stored fat.
But one of the things that make tomatoes so good for us is that they are full of lycopene, an antioxidant which reduces the effects of harmful free radicals. In fact, in the west, people get most of their lycopene just from tomatoes! This antioxidant may help reduce the risks of prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer and cholesterol. It may even help in reducing the signs of ageing on our skin and improves its ability to protect itself again UV rays. The redder and riper the tomato the more lycopene they contain.
One of the great things about tomatoes is that there nutritional benefits are still present when cooked so you can still get your fix from tomatoes in these cold winter months. Indeed cooking may even increase the amount of lycopene as it helps to release it from its cells. So use lots of tomatoes in your stews and curries and make lots of tomatoes based pasta sauces. Or you could try tomato soup.
The only thing that cooking does destroy is the vitamin C, so do try and eat some tomatoes raw too in salads and sandwiches!