#HeartyTuesday: TOMATO

Its Hearty Tuesday is here again, and I must say the magician of the day is one of a kind. It’s TOMATO. Now who would have thought Tomatoes could do the magic of strengthening the Heart?

 I mean, a lot of us must have thought all it could do was give food the exciting that makes one want to dive into the pot. Really, a tomato has got truckloads of nutrients and fun in it.

Tomatoes are a rich source of Vitamin C and A. They also contain Potassium, Fibre and are equally high in Lycopene, which works with other vitamins and minerals to aid disease prevention.

Intake of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Also, tomato extracts have been proved to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood - a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.

In a recent South American study of 26 vegetables, tomatoes and green beans came out best in their anti-aggregation properties. But only recently are researchers beginning to identify some of the most unusual phytonutrients in tomatoes that help provide us with these heart-protective benefits.

One of these phytonutrients is a glycoside called esculentoside A; another is flavonoid called Chalco- naringenin; and yet another is a fatty-acid type molecule called 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid.

As our knowledge of unique tomato phytonutrients expands, we are likely to learn more about the unique role played by tomatoes in support of heart health. Tomatoes are also likely to rise further and further toward the top of the list of heart-healthy foods.

 Cooking may increase the health benefits of tomatoes so don’t be afraid to pass it under a little heat. Cooking Tomatoes may reduce the Vitamin C content but Lycopene is made more available, and the antioxidant activity is left undiminished.

Give your body a green treat today.

Follow @thegreenfoodshop on Instagram for more recipes and tips.

Olubunmi Ayodele