7 Healthy Reasons to Eat Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They also pack plenty of the phytochemicals that provide disease prevention benefits. Tomatoes are high in lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) and phenolic compounds. In our diet, 95% of lycopene intake comes from tomatoes and tomato products. It is also found in watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya and rosehip.

Lycopene is better absorbed by the body when cooked with oil.

Lycopene is the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red. It appears that lycopene can reduce the risk of certain cancers, the eye disorder age-related macular degeneration, atherosclerosis and sun damage to the skin.

Men who eat two or more servings of tomato products average a 35 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Lycopene helps women guard against cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia, (CIN), tumorous tissue growth in the cervix according to research from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Lycopene is a powerful inhibitor of the growth of breast, endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) and lung cancer cells.

Lycopene is better absorbed by the body when it is cooked with some oil. The cooking helps to break down the cell walls of the tomato releasing the lycopene and the oil helps increase its absorption. Japanese scientists found that mixing tomato juice into the drinking water of mice completely prevented them suffering emphysema triggered by tobacco smoke.

Tomatoes also contain Lutein. Lutein is found in the retina of our eyes so it needed for healthy vision. Lutein also appears to lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein may also help to prevent or slow down the thickening of arteries that is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a major risk for cardiovascular disease.

Tomato products are beneficial in aggressive cancers that have also spread to other parts of the body.



This vegetable is widely popular throughout the world and is readily available in supermarkets year round with hundreds of varieties to choose from. Iceberg used to dominate the selections but other varieties are now moving to the forefront. Most domestic varieties are from California and imported lettuce typically arrives from Europe.

The lettuce that we see today, actually started out as a weed around the Mediterranean basin. Served in dishes for more than 4500 years, lettuce has certainly made its mark in history with tomb painting in Egypt and identification of different types of lettuces by various Greek scholars. Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to the new world and from there, lettuce in the United States began cultivating.

Most dark greens are good sources of Vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, folate, and dietary fiber. The rule of thumb is, usually, the darker the greens, the more nutritious the leaf.

There are four main types of lettuce and under each type there are different varieties.

 Butterhead (includes Boston and Bibb)
Loose heads, grassy green leaves, butter texture, mild flavor. Good examples are Boston lettuce, which looks like a blooming rose, and Bibb lettuce that has a small cup-shaped appearance.

The least nutritious of the salad greens, this pale green lettuce takes on the cabbage appearance with its leaves more tightly packed together. An example is the Iceberg lettuce. It's known for the crispy texture and very mild flavor.

This variety doesn't grow to form lettuce heads, but is instead the leaves are joined at the stem. Good examples of this variety include: oak leaf, red leaf, and green leaf.


 Romaine or Cos
This lettuce has gained tremendous popularity in the past decade as the key ingredient in Caesar salads. It has a loaf-like shape with darker outer leaves. It's strong taste and crispy texture has been favored by those who like Iceberg lettuce.

 Arugula (rocket or roquette)
This variety used to be hard find, but can now be found at many supermarkets. This variety is characterized by small, flat leaves with long stems, quite similar looking to dandelion leaves, and a peppery taste. This lettuce is usually paired with other varieties to balance out the taste.

 Belgian endive or French endive
This leaf is a family member of chicory and escarole, with tightly packed leaves and bullet-like shape. Creamy yellow or white in color, slightly bitter in taste, but crisp in texture.


 Chicory or curly endive
This leaf is slightly bitter, with darker outer leaves and paler or even yellow leaves towards the center. The leaves itself are ragged edged on long thin stems.


Another member of the chicory family, this lettuce has broad wavy leaves and a milder taste than chicory.


 Mâche or lamb's lettuce or field salad
With a fingerlike shape, velvety feel, and mild taste, this variety is usually sold bunched together with its roots, at an expensive price due to its delicate and perishable nature.


This variety looks like red cabbage, but it's actually a chicory family member. This leaf is typically used for an accent in salads because of its steep cost as most radicchio lettuce arrives from Italy.