Tomatoes can play an important role in the diet. They are a valuable source of vitamins A and C, as well as several minerals, including calcium, iron, manganese, and, particularly, potassium.
Tomatoes contain an average of 0.09mg of vitamin A and 15mg of vitamin C per 4oz (100g) of fruit, as well as 397mg of potassium per 100mg of fruit. They also contain lycopene, which is a carotenoid (a pigment involved in photosynthesis) that gives red coloring to tomatoes, pink
grapefruit, and watermelons. Several population studies have indicated that diets high in lycopene may offer protection against certain cancers.
Lycopene in tomatoes can be absorbed more effectively by the body when the tomatoes have been processed in some way, particularly when they are combined with fat and heated—so drizzling olive oil over your tomatoes and roasting them should be especially beneficial.
Lycopene is found in higher concentrations in red tomatoes; in studies, one cherry tomato of the variety 'Favorita' contained 1.39mg of lycopene, compared with 0.14mg found in a 'Golden Cherry' (p39) fruit. However, orange tomatoes have their own benefits—they have been found to contain much more vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, than red tomatoes.
There is no doubt that selecting and eating a variety of different tomatoes, of different shapes, sizes, and colors, as part of your diet will give you the best possible balance of nutrients. What more excuse do you need?
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