It shouldn’t matter if you believe that it’s a fruit or a vegetable; there is no doubt that tomatoes should be a key ingredient to include in your diet. Whether they’re a meaty, succulent red beef tomato or a sunny yellow cherry tomato, they all have excellent nutritional qualities and an abundant source of vitamins and antioxidants.
The acclaimed red colour is typically associated with the carotenoid pigment in plants, Lycopene, however tomatoes can be any colour and still contain a rich source of Lycopene. But why do we need it? This pigment is an antioxidant, which is responsible for clearing any potentially damaging and cancer-causing oxidants from the body and stops them from being reabsorbed again. Good news – you can even gain your Lycopene intake from tomato ketchup!
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
- Widely known for their vitamin content such as vitamin A, K and especially vitamin C. Did you know a single tomato provides a quarter of our daily intake per 100g? It’s a close competitor with oranges and other citrus fruits.
- Reduces cholesterol through the Lycopene preventing lipid oxidants being produced, and therefore prevent cardiovascular diseases. It reduces levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and Triglycerides which are dietary fat found in the blood.
- Counter the effects of cigarette smoke. The coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid found in tomatoes could help reduce the harmful nitrosamines substance caused by smoking.
- Beneficial to our appearance, providing treatment for our hair, skins and teeth. The nutrients in tomatoes are absorbed into skin cells and protect against the effects of UV rays and the aging process.
The opportunities for consuming tomatoes are pretty much endless. They are perfect used as a sauce for pastas, pizzas, meat dishes or as base for Indian cuisine. Finely chop them for a brilliant focaccia or bruschetta topping. Wilt them slightly and serve with a poached egg on toast for a healthy and nutritious breakfast (see our Nutritional class for the perfect poached egg on a fondue of tomatoes). Blend them to make a hearty winter soup, a summery gazpacho or a tomato juice, which is beneficial to help cure sunburn (and brilliant when drunk with vodka and a dash of Tabasco!) We use tomatoes in most of our cookery classes as they really are delicious and nutritious.
With summer approaching, I love this take on the classic tomato and mozzarella combination, as the freshness of the tomato and the creaminess of the bocconicini is heightened by the sweet and sour balsamic dressing.
Heirloom Tomato & Bocconcini Salad Caprese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 600g ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
- 1 x 220g ctn baby bocconcini, drained
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, large leaves torn
- Place the oil, vinegar, garlic and sugar in a small screw- top jar. Season with salt and pepper and shake until well combined
- Arrange the tomato and bocconcini in a shallow serving dish. Top with the basil. Drizzle over the dressing to serve.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.