Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Love a tasty tomato? Enjoy as they are in season and at their best. In case you were wondering, a tomato is technically a fruit because it develops from a flowering plant’s ovary and bears seeds. Vegetables are made up of other plant elements like roots, leaves, and stems, according to botany. However, tomatoes are regarded as vegetables when it comes to nutrients, along with seedy cucumbers and zucchini. That’s partly because they include fewer carbohydrates and sugars: Only 22 calories and around 5g of total carbs—3g of sugar and 1.5 g of fibre—are present in a medium tomato. However, this low-calorie, low-carb bundle is nutrient-rich and has been associated with a number of advantages to health and fertility.
Lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in abundance in tomatoes, has been shown to improve fertility.It is also linked to heart health and eye health too. Lycopene’s ability to increase male fertility has been the subject of much research. Lycopene supplementation has been studied as a possible treatment for male infertility. According to one study, supplementing with 4 to 8 mg of lycopene per day for 8 to 12 months improved the health of the semen and boosted the likelihood of getting pregnant. Research has discovered that cooked tomato products provide a more readily available source of lycopene as compared to raw tomato. This is due to the fact that the cooking process releases lycopene from the cell walls of the tomato. Other good food sources of lycopene are pink grapefruit, watermelon, guava and rosehip.
Tomatoes contain Chromium- this essential mineral is important for several functions in the body. It is part of a molecule called Chromodulin, which helps the hormone insulin perform its role. Chromium supports the role of insulin, which is a hormone that’s critical for the absorption and storage of glucose (blood sugar). Chromium works with insulin to help the body use blood sugar and may also be involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Chromium helps in maintaining of normal blood sugar (which may help to reduce sugar cravings) and insulin levels and also supports the maintenance of adequate cholesterol levels. Chromium may help improve fertility in people with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome), as it is thought to help to lower insulin levels and as result, testosterone levels are lowered. Insulin resistance is a core condition in PCOS and greatly contributes to hormonal imbalances that cause many PCOS symptoms.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C- a powerful antioxidant which is important in protecting DNA in cells (including the egg and sperm) from free radical damage- helping to prevent cell ageing. As vitamin C is involved in glucose metabolism- it helps with sugar balance, which may help in the prevention of diabetes and also for those with PCOS
This is important for hormone balance too. A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily recommended minimum of vitamin C.
Tomatoes provide us with Folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is a very important vitamin, for many reasons. It is involved with DNA methylation (a process related to gene expression), supports red blood cell formation and is important in regulating homocysteine levels in the blood. Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that supports neural tube development during pregnancy Not having enough vitamin B9 can also affect energy levels and mood.
Vitamin A (beta carotene)another important antioxidant also found in tomatoes. Vitamin A helps to keep the tissues in the reproductive system healthy, along with ensuring the normal growth and development of embryos during pregnancy. It also helps with tissue repair in the mother after birth has taken place.
To get the most out of your tomatoes
Buy ripe tomatoes as they have a considerably higher lycopene content than was thought to be the case as under-ripe tomatoes have considerably less lycopene in them.
Try growing your own!
Cook using tomato puree as it has a lower water content than fresh tomato, so the nutrients are concentrated. In recent studies it has been discovered that lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste and cooked tomatoes.
Enjoy your tomatoes with a little olive oil as this will increase how much lycopene your body absorbs.
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