Eating tomatoes may help reduce your cancer risk. A Harvard study done in 1995 showed men who ate a lot of tomatoes appeared to have a lower risk of prostate cancer. This effect is largely attributed to lycopene. However, some studies suggest a synergistic effect of the vitamins also found in tomatoes. Lycopene is actually related chemically to vitamin A.
According to the American Cancer Society, there is also strong evidence that lycopene-rich foods may help protect against lung and stomach cancer. There is also evidence that lycopene may help prevent several other forms of cancer as well.
The antioxidants found in many colorful fruits and vegetables help to protect your heart, and tomatoes are no exception. Studies indicate that people with low levels of lycopene in their bodies may be more likely to suffer from heart disease. Lycopene may decrease inflammation and reduce LDL cholesterol, both of which may help keep your heart healthier.
Tomatoes are good for you whether you eat them fresh, like on a salad or sandwich, or when cooked into a sauce. Bite-sized cherry tomatoes make a delicious snack when dipped into your favorite veggie dip; and plump roma tomatoes are perfect for making sauces. While cooking reduces the vitamin C content, the lycopene becomes more concentrated.
Nutritious Tomato Recipes
American Cancer Society. "Lycopene." Updated 11/2008.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Lycopene: an Antioxidant for Good Health." Published 2002.
Basu A, Imrhan V. "Tomatoes versus lycopene in oxidative stress and carcinogenesis: conclusions from clinical trials." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):295-303.