Superfood of the Week: Tomato

There is sometimes confusion as to whether a tomato is actually a fruit or a vegetable; The College View can reveal that even though they are so commonly served with other vegetables, a tomato is actually a fruit. They are the seed-bearing portions of a flowering plant.

Tomatoes are found in so many different dishes, for example we commonly consume them when eating our favourite fast food, pizza. We seldom realise how good tomatoes actually are for us. They are, for example, regarded as the ‘epitome’ of cancer-fighting superfoods.

Tomatoes are extremely rich in antioxidants and contain the phytochemical lycopene which helps prevent heart disease. Lycopene by itself, or in combination with other nutrients, can raise the sun protection factor (SPF) of the skin.

As a general rule, the greater the proportion of skin to interior fruit, the higher the antioxidant ability. For example, cranberries and blueberries are extraordinarily high in antioxidants. This rule stands true for tomatoes also. The smaller the tomato the higher its antioxidant ability. Cherry tomatoes are therefore very healthy for you.

If you are buying canned tomatoes you shouldn’t be disheartened to think they won’t be as nutritional. They lose very few of their nutrients in the canning process but do gain extra salts. Where you can however, choose whole, peeled tomatoes instead of crushed, diced or stewed canned tomatoes.

If you don’t like fresh tomatoes they can be found in so many other varieties that you are certain to enjoy one of them: sun dried tomatoes, tomato ketchup and pasta sauces are just three examples.

Emma O’Rourke

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