Tomato prevents prostate cancer

Tomato, a juicy star vegetable of summer salads, provides nutrients with great antioxidant power that protect against cancer and enhance health.

The tomato left America with the Spanish conquistadors and was very well received everywhere. Its intense red color, which attracts the eye as if it wanted to draw attention to its qualities, is due to lycopene, an antioxidant pigment that protects against various types of cancer, heart and degenerative diseases.

Healthy red

In ripe tomatoes, lycopene represents more than 80% of the carotenes, followed by beta-carotene, with 5%, phytoene or phytofluene. Lycopene is not converted into vitamin A like beta-carotene, but its consumption is recommended for its outstanding antioxidant effect: it protects cells from free radicals responsible for tissue degeneration that leads to cardiovascular diseases, cancer and premature aging. .

Prevention against various types of cancer

Lycopene has an affinity for certain tissues in the human body. It tends, for example, to concentrate in the prostate, which explains why it helps prevent the development of cancer in this organ. A study carried out in the Biomedical Engineering faculty at Harvard University (United States) for six years revealed that the consumption of a minimum of ten weekly servings of tomato or derived products reduced the chances of developing prostate cancer by 45%. In addition, lycopene improves the skin's resistance to carcinogenic solar radiation and reduces the incidence of tumors of the mouth, brain, neck, breast, lung, stomach and colon.

It is also related to the prevention of macular degeneration – the main cause of blindness in people over 65 years of age –, urinary tract disorders and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Tomato, good friend of the heart

The tomato is an ally of the heart for several reasons. Lycopene reduces LDL or "bad" cholesterol, which causes arteriosclerosis, so eating tomatoes helps reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. It has also been discovered that in the gelatin that surrounds the seeds there is a component that, without being an antioxidant, also reduces the damage caused by free radicals. It is known as "tomato factor P3" and prevents the formation of thrombi in the arteries and, therefore, cardiovascular complications such as myocardial infarction.

Flavor and freshness on the table

The tomato is one of the stars of Mediterranean cuisine, as it can be used in all types of dishes, whether solid or liquid, raw or cooked, salty or sweet. In salads, in cold soups, like gazpacho and salmorejo, or rubbed on bread and dressed with olive oil, becomes an extraordinary companion.

In addition to being eaten raw, tomato is essential in stir-fries and fillings, pasta sauces, and is exquisite prepared in the oven, steamed or in the form of millefeuille.

Purchase and conservation

You have to choose them according to the use to which they are going to be given. Some luxury varieties are Raf tomatoes, Oxheart and Montserrat tomatoes. Mallorquins or hanging ones are ideal for spreading bread. Pear ones are used in sauces and preserves. And the cherry ones, in salads, canapés and kebabs. In any case, it is advisable to choose organic ones, since in these the density of nutrients and chemical compounds is greater.

With the surplus tomatoes you can make preserves and jam, or dry them, cut them in half and place them on the oven rack over low heat for several hours.

M. Núñez and C. Navarro (health) and Mercedes Blasco (cooking)