Over recent years tomatoes have swung between the ‘dirty dozen’ list and the ‘Clean Fifteen’. Currently US data puts them as ‘clean’, with a relatively low level of pesticide residue, but results in the UK may well be different. If I am not using home-grown tomatoes ( you may still be able to pick up some tomato plants from markets and garden centres) or am unable to buy organic, I usually give tomatoes a good soak in a home-made or shop-bought vegetable wash (more about these in a future post), to remove any residual pesticides.
Anyone with an allergy to the nightshade family will need to avoid tomatoes, and some people with joint problems or psoriasis may find that they are better without these fruits. We can discuss these possibilities within a consultation. For most people, tomatoes provide a versatile and convenient food that can be added to cooking or salads in a variety of ways.
Natural Products Online had an interesting article on 7th June on the benefit of the Lycopene in tomatoes limiting sun-skin damage:
Lycopene, the natural red pigment found in tomatoes, has been found to increase skin protection as seen by a reduction in skin redness and less sunburnt DNA damage…
…Annually, there are 100,000 new cases of skin cancer in the UK and the rate of increase in skin cancer incidence is the greatest compared to other cancers in Europe. Over the last five years, more people have died of skin cancer in the UK than in Australia.
Every time you go out in the sun you add another layer of sunburnt DNA and a tower of damage builds up in your skin. Our defence system can be enhanced by antioxidants. Skin health and DNA damage can be affected by melanin, intake of lycopene, sun screen and lifestyle.
In Professor Birch-Machin’s latest study, 20 women received a diet rich in processed tomatoes or a low tomato diet for 12 weeks. Volunteers on the lycopene diet had increased skin protection, as seen by a reduction in skin redness and less sunburnt DNA damage. Lycopene could have an important role in helping to reduce the inflammatory response of the skin to UV damage, including wrinkling.
Lycopene is present in all red fruits and vegetables, but its concentrations are highest in tomatoes and it becomes more readily available and biologically active when it comes from processed tomatoes…
One way of working with these suggestions is to add slow-roasted tomatoes to salad recipes. If you are using larger tomatoes, cut into quarters, removing the fibrous stem section at the top. If using baby tomatoes leave whole or cut in half. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with a little Extra Virgin olive oil and place in an oven at a low temperature for 30 -40 minutes until the tomatoes are begining to shrivel slightly. This also concentrates all the flavour. Remove from the oven and mix with other salad vegetables. Try tossing with steamed French beans and finely shredded red onion, drizzled with extra virgin olive or flax seed oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.