Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables both in Poland and around the world. We distinguish countless species and varieties of tomatoes, and the ways to use them is infinite. The Spaniards are waging a tomato war called La Tomatina, and we, the Poles, are cooking the best tomato soup in the world! There are poems, songs and even paintings on their subject. We eat them practically all year round, however, gourmets know that the tastiest ones are during the holiday season, because the tomatoes ripening in the sun are more aromatic, sweeter and, above all, richer in nutrients.
In addition to the taste values they provide us, tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, beta-carotene and biotin. Two medium tomatoes (about 300g) cover about 35% of the daily requirement for beta-carotene. A set of antioxidant vitamins protects LDL cholesterol against oxidation, thus contributing to a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Folic acid has a regulating effect on the nervous system, improves memory and increases the secretion of the so-called „Happiness hormones” in the body. In order to cover about 40% of the need for folic acid, which reduces the concentration of homocysteine in the blood, responsible for the formation of atherosclerotic lesions, you should consume about two medium tomatoes. Vitamin K facilitates blood clotting, in other words it has anti-haemorrhaging effects.
In addition, they are a great source of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. It slows down the aging process of the body’s cells thanks to the strong neutralizing action of free radicals. Therefore, eating tomatoes and other lycopene-rich red vegetables protects against cancer, diseases of the circulatory system and cataracts. An especially important action of lycopene is the protective effect against the development of prostate cancer. In addition, lycopene reduces the risk of cancer of the stomach and large intestine, as well as lung and breast cancer and reproductive system of women. The proper supply of lycopene has a beneficial effect on the eyesight, because it affects the action of the macula of the eye. To cover the daily demand for lycopene, we should eat one tomato or a bowl of tomato soup, or drink a glass of tomato juice or a sandwich, add two teaspoons of good quality ketchup. Which tomatoes have the most lycopene? Reds, especially those with an intense color, because lycopene is responsible for their red color. Green should be eaten in moderation, because they have less nutrients, and unfortunately more tomatin – a component harmful to the human body. It is well known that the less processed vegetables, the healthier they are because they do not lose vitamins and minerals in the technological process. However, tomato juice or concentrate has less nutrients because it contains up to 2-3 times more valuable lycopene than fresh fruit. Importantly, the lycopene bioavailability increases if tomatoes are processed with the addition of olive oil. Tomato is a great source of potassium, as 100 g contains almost 300 mg of this ingredient. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, regulation of the body’s water and electrolyte balance , and consequently it prevents the hypertension. Magnesium contained in these vegetables supports the work of the nervous system, helps in concentration and memorization.
Therefore, tomatoes, in every form, are a great and valuable product that should be consumed as often as possible, of course if there are no contraindications. You should choose good quality tomato preserves, eg ketchup. In winter it is worth reaching for tomatoes from the can, because they are harvested in summer and are certainly tastier than those we buy in the supermarket. Eating tomatoes every day does not have to be boring. They can be eaten in various forms, and prepared according to interesting recipes, starting with caprese salad, tomato muffins, stuffed tomatoes and ending with a tomato dessert with caramel and vanilla ice cream!