Can Tomatoes Lower your Risk of Cancer?

by in Aquaponics, Food December 1, 2018

Researchers have found tomatoes contain phytochemicals and minerals that reduce the risk of carcinogenesis.

Tomatoes are being hailed as a cancer-fighting superfood. A study conducted by Colditz published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that among 1,271 people, “those who were in the top half of tomato consumption had a lower risk of all cancers compared with those in the bottom half”[1]. What do tomatoes contain that reduce the risk of carcinogenesis? Researchers found that the phytochemical responsible for the vibrant red color in tomatoes is the main contributing factor in fighting off cancer development. Tomatoes also contain vitamins that help reduce cancer-inducing free radicals.

What’s in tomatoes?

Tomatoes contain a red carotenoid known as lycopene. This durable phytochemical gives tomatoes the vivid red color they’re known for, and it persists even after tomatoes have been cooked or puréed.

So what does lycopene do that helps it combat cancer? Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, and it’s rated to be even more effective than the carotenoid beta-carotene[2]. It has been credited with defense against pro-oxidant states, and this has lead researchers to hail lycopene as a carotenoid with anti-cancer properties.

In addition to being responsible for more than 80 percent of the lycopene consumed in the typical American diet, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene[3]. Both of these vitamins are well-known antioxidants which also help to combat cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Paired with the powerful antioxidant powers of lycopene, one can see why tomatoes are being recognized as an effective superfood for cancer prevention.

How do I grow my own tomatoes?

Aquaponics makes it easy to start growing your own tomatoes. Check out our aquaponics page to view our systems, or contact us to have one custom made!

What exactly is aquaponics? Aquaponics is a natural method of plant growth that combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics—a method of growing plants without the use of soil[4]. Fish, microbes, and worms are placed in a water tank that provides water and organic nutrients for plant growth. The microbes convert compounds from the fish, such as ammonia, into nitrates that the plant can absorb, while worms provide algae control. This makes for a great way to grow your own vegetables and herbs organically.

Aquaponics provides several significant benefits over traditional soil-based gardening. Aquaponics systems do not require the use of any toxic herbicides, harmful pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Since all plant growth happens in water, you don’t have to worry about any weeds, pests, insects, or diseases that originate from soil. Aquaponics systems reuse water and only need to be topped off when some water is lost to plant transpiration and evaporation. Because of this, aquaponics systems use only one-tenth of the water used in soil-based gardening. This natural and eco-friendly method of growing plants is an easy and safe way to grow organic tomatoes right in your own home!

What can I make with tomatoes?

Whether fresh or cooked, tomatoes make for a great addition to a variety of meals—and they make for some great dishes on their own too! If you’re feeling a craving for fresh tomatoes, it’s recommended to consume your fresh tomatoes with a full-fat dressing—such as one that includes olive oil—in order to get more of the cancer-preventing effect of tomatoes. This is because lycopene is a lipid-soluble compound, and consuming it with fat increases its bio-availability[5]. This means your body will be able to absorb more lycopene than it would from fresh tomatoes on their own. For maximum lycopene absorption however, it’s easiest for your body to extract lycopene from cooked and puréed tomato products.

Some creations that call for fresh tomatoes include pico de gallo, tomato salad, and salsa. Fresh tomatoes can also be sliced and tossed with salads or placed on top of homemade pizzas, and you can drizzle some olive oil on these dishes for increased lycopene absorption. Tomato juice, tomato soup, grilled tomatoes, tomato sauce, and ketchup are also great options to optimize your lycopene intake.

Information References:

  1. Giovannucci, E. (1999, February 17). Tomatoes, Tomato-Based Products, Lycopene, and Cancer: Review of the Epidemiologic Literature. Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/91/4/317/2543924
  2. Sies, H., Kaiser, S., & Mascio, P. D. (2004, November 02). Lycopene as the most efficient biological carotenoid singlet oxygen quencher. Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0003986189904670
  3. Story, E., Kopec, R., Schwartz, S., Harris, G. (2013, December 04). An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene. Retrieved November 30, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3850026/#R28
  4. What is Aquaponics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theaquaponicsource.com/what-is-aquaponics/
  5. Stoller, R. (2017, January 26). Tasty Tomatoes: Anti-Cancer Attributes & A Healthy Recipe. Retrieved from https://www.nfcr.org/blog/tasty-tomatoes-anti-cancer-attributes-healthy-recipe/

Image References:

  1. Keep Naturally. (n.d.) Lycopene Benefits: Tomatoes and Prostate Cancer Risk. Retrieved from http://keepnaturally.com/lycopene-benefits-tomatoes-and-prostate-cancer-risk/
  2. Ecosalon. (2016, October 27). Australia is growing hydroponic tomatoes with no fresh water, soil, or fossil fuels. Retrieved from http://ecosalon.com/in-australia-tomatoes-are-growing-with-no-water-no-soil-and-no-fossil-fuel/

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