(NaturalNews) Tomatoes -- that acidic fruit which tastes much more like a vegetable -- are very versatile in the kitchen. They can be added to sauces, soups and salads as well as eaten fresh from the vine. In addition to lots of added flavor, using tomatoes infuses foods with bright colors that make dishes as visually appealing as they are delicious. Eating tomatoes is not only a feast for the eyes and stomach, though. They also offer protection against a number of different cancers.
Free radicals, those molecules that contain oxygen as well as at least one unpaired electron, often react to other molecules. This can set the stage for cancerous tumors to develop. Tomatoes contain copious amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that can help prevent those free radicals from damaging cells.
Helps reduce kidney cancer
Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is behind many of the health benefits of tomatoes, is what gives the fruit its red color. Live Science published a study which found that women who had higher levels of lycopene in their bodies had a 45 percent lower risk of developing kidney cancer compared to those women with the lowest levels of the antioxidant. Researchers stated that people would need to eat about four tomatoes each day to replicate the higher levels of these women.
Observational studies show positive link
Observational studies, while different from clinical studies, have merit of their own. A large number of these studies that look at groups of people that share a certain commonality, such as living in the same area, showed a correlation between eating tomatoes and a lower risk of cancer. In 2004, 21 of these studies found that prostate cancer is one illness that is targeted by tomatoes.
Lycopene has positive effect on animals
Animal studies have also shown a powerful link between eating lycopene and preventing cancer. The animals in one study showed a reduction in the growth of brain tumors. In a second study, animals who frequently ingested lycopene over an extended period of time had the growth of their breast tumors suppressed.
Lycopene is not the only healthy component
While the wondrous benefits of lycopene are often heralded, tomatoes also contain a number of other healthy properties that make them true powerhouses of health. They contain other antioxidants as well as carotenoids, both of which are known to help the body stay healthy. In addition, tomatoes contain liberal amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A.
Given the many health benefits of tomatoes and their sheer versatility in the kitchen, increasing one's consumption of these bright red fruits should be at the top of everyone's to-do list.