October 16, 2012

A Little Bit Of Lycopene, Anyone?

Tomatoes! This delicious little fruit has just given another reason to eat more tomatoes and tomato products. redOrbit reported that recent studies showed people who ate more tomatoes were far less likely to have a stroke. Prior to this article, redOrbit detailed that cooked tomatoes have been shown to slow cancer growth. What element of the tomato has such powerful effects? Why, it’s just your average antioxidant lycopene, a cell-protecting, damage-fighting nutrient. What delicious discoveries! When heart disease is the number one killer of women, followed closely by cancers, I think this is worth delving into just a bit more. Let’s look at some tomato-rich foods and then get our eat on!

The tomato itself: There’s nothing like a fresh, ripe tomato for breakfast in the summertime. And the best way to get that fresh tomato is not from the market. Oh no. Nothing beats walking out to the backyard and picking your own tomato from your own tomato plants in your own garden. Not only is the taste stronger, but you know what you’ve put on your plants. And if you’re anything like me, you know you’re about to bite into an organic tomato grown with your own love.

If you’re not into just biting through a nice, juicy, ripe tomato, add it to your sandwich or salad. The tomato adds both sweet and savory flavors to any meal.

Ketchup: Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all the tomato products, ketchup is one condiment that deserves applause. It compliments almost any food from meats to potatoes to eggs to veggies. Okay, so maybe it doesn’t taste so great with sweets, but it still adds flavor to many foods.

Pasta sauce: Who doesn’t love a good spaghetti and pasta sauce dish? In this form, the tomato combines with other vegetables, herbs, and spices to create a sauce that makes those taste buds start perking up just by thinking about it. It can be thick and chunky or just a bit runny. No matter the density, tomato sauce is a favorite worldwide. With pasta dishes or on pizza, in the form of a marinara or pizza sauce, the pasta sauce finds its way into our culinary lives regularly.

Tomato soup: Oh yes. That’s right. The almighty tomato soup. It can be made as a bisque, with basil, with other veggies, or just tomato soup by itself. And this soup is a global favorite on cold, winter nights. Paired with a tasty grilled gouda sandwich, and we just might have found manna.

Tomato juice: If all other tomato foods fail, we can always count on good ol’ tomato juice. Just an eight ounce glass packs at least a serving of tomatoes and all their nutritious goodness. So when time’s a factor, seek out the tomato juice. It’s an easy and convenient way to get that lycopene.

With so many opportunities to get the tomato into our diets, and with all the health benefits from heart health to cancer protection, why not add more tomatoes to our daily lives? Plus, tomatoes have strong levels of vitamin C and other nutrients. With all that, let’s not call the whole thing off as the song suggests. Pronounce the word however you want; just make sure you’re doing it in the midst of a meal full of delicious antioxidants from the tomato.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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