There is definitely something about hitting your 50's, at least for me that was the case. Suddenly I became more focussed on the whole business of ageing or more importantly not ageing. I don't mean worrying about wrinkles or the sudden appearance of grey hair (grrrrrrr). I mean how to age well in a 'be disease free; able to leap around full of energy embracing life WITH a full set of marbles'.....sort of way.
I don't want to get to the point where I feel 'too old to do that'....whatever 'that' is (except perhaps wear hot pants again.....yes I did do that but in my defence I was about 7 at the time)....moving on....
I have written before about how simple dietary and lifestyle changes can make a massive contribution to ageing well. Read these articles to find out more:
- Five Amazing Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life - click here
- The MediterAsian Diet - The Best Diet for Healthy Ageing - click here
Or just click healthy ageing in the 'search the archive' section on the right hand side of this page
But today I am going to focus on just one food - tomatoes. So what do they have to bring to the party?
WHATS SO SPECIAL ABOUT TOMATOES?
One of the key features of tomatoes is a plant compound called lycopene, part of the carotenoid family (it's what makes tomatoes red). It is a powerful antioxidant (helps prevent damage to cells). The lycopene in tomatoes is more bioavailable if eaten with some fat (cooked in bit of olive or coconut oil or served with a dressing) rather than just raw tomatoes on their own. So tomatoes soup, sauces, passata, purees and tomato juice are all good off the shelf options to lash into your food. However, not an excuse to eat tomato ketchup as the sugar in most version of this food will surely outweigh the benefit!
WHAT HEALTH BENEFITS DO TOMATOES PROVIDE?
Lycopene has been studied in relation to a number of health benefits:
- Cancer: particularly noted for a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer in men, and possibly breast, lung and other cancers too (1)
- Cardiovascular disease: higher lycopene levels are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (1) In particular a reduction of the 'bad' LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and an increase in the good 'HDL' cholesterol levels.
HOW CAN YOU EAT MORE OF THEM?
- Red & green eggs: Sauté some chopped tomatoes in a little olive oil or coconut oil before you add eggs to scramble in the pan. Top with fresh basil leaves
- Avocado on toast: add some diced tomato onto your avocado toast, top with some chilli flakes
- Fresh salsa: diced tomatoes, mixed with spring onions, fresh coriander a dash of olive oil and plenty of fresh lime juice - chilli and garlic to taste. Keeps in the fridge to accompany any fish or chicken, will mix with ready cooked beans or puy lentils for a quick lunch
- Slow roasted tomatoes: a great way to batch cook a glut of tomatoes. You can freeze or store in oil for later use. Great to add to salads. Find a recipe
- Simple tomato salad: slice perfectly ripe tomatoes, season and drizzle with oil and vinegar
- Tomato soup: has a high in comfort factor, even ready prepared options work, but get a good quality one that hasn't got lashings of added sugar (sorry Heinz that's not you - 19.2g sugar in a can of tomato soup....that's nearly 5 teaspoons....puleeeze)
(1) Story EN, Kopec RE, Schwartz SJ, Harris GK. An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene. Annual review of food science and technology. 2010;1:10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120. doi:10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120.