Red globes of goodness

Published 11:50 am Friday, August 8, 2014

Well, we’re right in the middle of the vegetable garden harvest season, and I’d like to share some information on tomatoes. These little gyms not only taste great, they’re really nutritious too. Tomatoes are one of the most frequently consumed “vegetables” in the United States. Actually, though they’re usually thought of as vegetables, tomatoes are botanically classified as fruits.

Tomatoes come in many colors and shapes. They can be red, yellow, green, striped, brown orange, or even purple. They can be round, oval, tiny, huge, or bite- sized. Even though tomatoes are available all year round, the best tasting ones are grown in late spring, through mid to late summer, and are best when vine ripened. So just what is so great about the tomato? Well first, tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called “lycopene”. Lycopene is actually what provides tomatoes their beautiful red color. It’s been extensively studied, and proven to show amazing results in helping to preventing certain cancers such as; prostate, lung, stomach, and breast. Lycopene research also suggests some amelioration of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even premature aging. Cooked tomato products actually contain more lycopene than fresh ones, so your best sources are tomato sauce, tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, and tomato juice.

Ok, now back to fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are high in vitamins A, C, B6, niacin, folate, and potassium. Tomatoes are fortified with the mineral “chromium”, which is beneficial for diabetics to keep blood sugar levels under control. Tomatoes also contain vitamin K and calcium for strong bones. Tomatoes are great for weight loss too, because they are low in calories, while filling. Also, tomatoes may act as a natural appetite suppressant. Our stomachs produce a hormone called “ghrelin”. The function of this hormone is to tell the brain, the body needs to be fed. This means the level of ghrelin increases before eating, and decreases after. Research shows tomatoes decrease ghrelin, and other appetite regulating hormones, thereby helping us eat less.

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Smokers should consume tomatoes too, because they contain organic compounds “chlorogenic” and “coumaric” acid, which help, fight against carcinogens due to smoking. Also, the “chlorogenic acid”, found in tomatoes is actually marketed in Norway and the United Kingdom as a weight loss supplement, so tomatoes can help you lose even more weight.

Don’t store your tomatoes in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures ruin their taste and texture. Also, believe it or not, when slicing a tomato or any vegetable, or fruit, use a sharp knife. A dull one bruises vegetable tissues, and diminishes their vitamin content.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 27 years. He serves as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse college equestrian team. He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.