Tomatoes are often considered vegetables when in actual sense they belong to the citrus fruits family. One tomato a day ensures that you have about five grams of carbohydrates, one gram of dietary fibre, one gram of protein and six milligrams of sodium while also providing the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and calcium.
Eating tomatoes also lowers the risk of certain cancers especially lung, stomach and prostrate cancers. A substance called lycopene, which is responsible for the red colour in tomatoes is the reason for this cancer protective effect. Tomatoes are very high in antioxidants such as vitamin A and C, which protect the body from DNA damage as a result of free radicals. In addition, the presence of important nutrients such as niacin, folate and vitamin B6 in tomatoes has been associated with the reduction of heart disease risk.
Drinking eight ounces of tomato juice daily reduces platelet aggregation (the clustering together of thrombocytes, structures that help prevent bleeding). In fact, drinking little amounts of tomato juice helps protect against thrombosis (blood clots in the blood vessels). A glass of tomato juice daily also reduces blood levels of TNF-alpha, which is responsible for inflammation. Moreover, due to the rich source of riboflavin in tomatoes, including them in your diet reduces the frequency of migraine attacks
Tomatoes are available all-year round in Kenya and can be consumed in diverse ways, including raw and as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, sandwiches, salads, and drinks. Avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator as it rids them of their flavour. Instead, put them in a bowl lined with a paper towel to help them stay fresh for longer. Store them at room temperature and away from any major heat sources, such as stovetops and microwaves. They should also not be placed in direct sunlight, unless they need to ripen.
Published in July 2013