Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Isabelle Z.
When you think of cancer-fighting foods, what usually comes to mind? Perhaps you think of turmeric, ginger, or green tea, but what about tomatoes? You’re probably aware they’re good for you, but did you know they can actually reduce your risk of stomach cancer?
That was the finding of a study carried out by Temple University and the Mercogliano Oncology Research Center in Italy. The researchers analyzed the lipophilic extracts of whole tomatoes to determine their impact on the neoplastic features of cell lines in gastric cancer. They discovered that extracts taken from two tomato varieties in particular, San Marzano and Corbarino, could stop malignant stomach cancer cells from cloning and growing. The whole tomato extracts stopped the cells from migrating away from the primary tumor, causing them to die.
If you’re into cooking, you’re probably already familiar with San Marzano tomatoes, which are the preferred variety for pizza sauce. These plum tomatoes grow near Mount Vesuvius, where the rich volcanic soil gives them their distinctive sweet flesh and low acidity. Their meaty texture, thick skin, and relatively low amount of seeds combine to make them quite different from ordinary tomatoes. Corbarino tomatoes grow in the same area and boast similar characteristics.
The researchers say that the anti-tumor effects of these tomatoes do not come from specific components like lycopene alone; instead, their results indicate that the entire tomato needs to be consumed to reap the benefits. It’s a significant finding when you consider that stomach cancer is the world’s most common type of cancer. Their findings were published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.
Despite being a staple in the Mediterranean diet, this is one of just a handful of studies to look at the effects of the entire tomato. However, different components of tomatoes have been studied extensively over the years for their cancer-fighting abilities. Lycopene, for example, has been explored in-depth for its ability to destroy free radicals. The antioxidant is what gives the tomatoes their red color. While small amounts can be found in watermelon, grapefruit, and guava, four-fifths of the lycopene in the average American’s diet comes from tomatoes and tomato products such as tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, and ketchup.
Studies have shown that lycopene can prevent cancers of the lung, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreas, esophagus, cervix, and breast. In addition, it can help reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease thanks to its cholesterol and blood pressure lowering effects.
Further research is needed to explore whether other types of tomatoes could have a similar effect. It’s possible that some varieties have a greater effect than others, and it would be useful to find out which ones are the most powerful cancer fighters.
In the meantime, you can’t go wrong by incorporating more tomatoes into your diet. Choose organic varieties and try to buy local whenever possible. Cooking them increases the bioavailability of lycopene, as does consuming them with a fat like olive oil or cheese.
If you’re not a fan of cooked tomato dishes, experiment with different ways of consuming them raw – for example, sliced and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, chopped up in a green or pasta salad, or with other vegetables as part of a fresh homemade salsa. Don’t miss out on this powerful gift from nature!