I am looking forward to harvesting my delicious grape tomatoes from my garden very soon and this is the time of year when tomatoes are at their peak of deliciousness! While a fresh garden salad with sliced tomatoes is a wonderful, refreshing light summer lunch or side dish with dinner, you may not be getting optimal nutrition from these veggie powerhouses.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects eye health, as well as decreasing risk of bone loss, cancer, stroke and even sunburn. Because lycopene is fat-soluble, eating foods that contain it with healthy fats increases its absorption. But new research now also reveals that cooking tomatoes not only enhances the health benefits lycopene has on your good gut bacteria, but also promotes increased lycopene absorption in your gut.
Often we believe eating our veggies raw is the healthiest way to get all their benefits but that is not always true. There are some instances where the bioavailability of the nutrients is increased by light cooking. This is true of tomatoes as well as carrots, asparagus and spinach.
According to a study, heating tomatoes for 30 minutes boosted lycopene absorption by 35% and increased the antioxidant levels by 62%. So be sure to drizzle some extra virgin olive or avocado oil into your tomato sauce or roasted tomatoes to increase absorption of those nutrients even more.
The newest research shows that the antioxidants from cooked tomato sauce enhanced the positive effects of L. reuteri, one of the main bacterial species that contribute to gut health. Cooked tomato sauce appeared to be more effective than raw.
One of my favorite ways to use my very prolific supply of garden fresh grape tomatoes is in this recipe for salmon burgers with roasted grape tomatoes.
What’s your favorite way to eat tomatoes?
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