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How to Eat Tomatoes for Full Disease Fighting Benefits

Tomatoes have been dubbed as a superfood many times over, for their high content in essential nutriments, vitamins and antioxidants, as well as their renowned ailment-fighting benefits. But did you know that all tomato products are not created equal, and that there are ways of eating tomatoes that help obtain full health benefits? Read on to find out how to consume tomatoes in order to benefit fully from their superfood powers.

It’s a fact: processed tomato products are more beneficial, as cooking and condensing the tomatoes concentrates the lycopene, the powerful anti-oxidant which gives the fruit its red color. Moreover, the lycopene in is more easily absorbed by the body if processed: one Italian study* showed that absorption of lycopene was more than three times greater when consumed as tomato sauce or paste than from raw tomatoes. So, not only are tomatoes a superfood, they're an easy and cheap superfood to include in your diet.

Organic tomato products are most beneficial, because they are made from tomatoes that are free of any malignant additives, pesticides or herbicides. These can actually be harmful to your health, and are more likely to induce disease than prevent it. Furthermore, tomatoes in organic products have been processed when ripe, which means that they have kept their full nutritive potential.

Cooking tomatoes with olive oil further improves their potency, because lycopene and beta-carotene are soluble in oil but not water. Therefore, cooking tomatoes in olive oil prepares these beneficial chemicals perfectly for absorption by the body.

In order to obtain full benefits from tomatoes, you should aim for 3 to 5 servings each week, according to WebMD. Each of the following variants count for one serving; try them with half to one teaspoonful of virgin olive oil: cooked tomatoes (two medium whole tomatoes); pasta sauce (125ml); purée (two tbsp); soup (250ml); fresh juice (250ml); paste (two tbsp).

*Marisa Porrini, Patrizia Riso, and Giulio Testolin, Absorption of Lycopene from Single or Daily Portions of Raw and Processed Tomato, British Journal of Nutrition 80: 353-361 (October 1998)

Read more
The Red Bodyguard: The amazing health-promoting properties of the tomato' by pharmacist Ron Levin

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