Tomatoes are originally from South America and they were imported by C. Columbus after discovering America.
They are rich in vitamins C and E, carotenoids (beta carotenoids, lutein, betacriptoxantin and lycopene), flavonoids (quercetin and naringenin), cinnamic acids (chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and curamic acid), minerals and folic acid. Many of these components have beneficial actions against cancer cells.
Carotenoids are precursors of vitamin A, which is crucial in the regeneration of the mucus membrane, which is frequently affected by chemo/radiotherapy.
The most important carotenoid when it comes to fighting cancer is lycopene. It’s a red pigment also present in watermelon, papaya and guava, but in smaller quantities.
The lycopene has antioxidant properties and acts protecting our cells from the oxidative stress of free radicals. It also modulates responsible molecules in the cell cycle producing a regression in tumors. In addition, lycopene can prevent tumors from metastasising and can induce natural cell death (apoptosis) of cancer cells.
The vitamin C, E, beta carotenoids and flavonoids have a synergic effect on the lycopene, empowering its anti-cancer activity. Therefore it is best to eat tomatoes rather buying lycopene supplements.
Mature tomatoes are the richest in lycopene, and when it comes to species, Raf tomatoes and pear shaped tomatoes have shown to contain more of this substance than others.
The lycopene is liposoluble, which means it dissolves in fat (not in water). Hence, olive oil eases its absorption in the bowel. However, the best way getting the most out of it is eating homemade ketchup! This is because when the tomatoes are cooked, the lycopene, together with the other anti-cancer agents become easier to absorb for our bowel.
How to make healthy homemade ketchup: Stir-fry two garlic cloves and one chopped onion. Add one kilo of red, mature, crushed tomatoes. Season with basil, turmeric and pepper and let simmer about 20 minutes.
- Fernández Martínez, Odile; 2013. Mis recetas anticáncer – Alimentación y vida anticancer. ISBAN 978-84-7953-437-0
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