Food As Medicine - Tomatoes & Basil
Is there a better combination than tomatoes and basil in the summer? This is one of my favourite summer flavour combinations (since I am a foodie in my spare time). As the hazy days of summer continue, vegetables like tomatoes and basil come to harvest for late summer salads and dishes. My partner and I always enjoy the smell of tomato plants - maybe this is nostalgia from eating fresh tomatoes from the garden as a kid. This week, we will delve into why tomatoes and basil are not only delicious but also healthy and disease-fighting.
This will be the last post of Food As Medicine Series! Check out previous posts on how to use other seasonal vegetables here.
Health Info: Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant known as lycopene. This antioxidant has been associated with the prevention of many diseases such as cancers and inflammation.
Use For: Prostate Cancer Prevention. A meta-analysis of lycopene and prostate cancer showed that a higher lycopene consumption was associated with an inverse relationship with the risk of developing prostate cancer at 9-21mg/day. One tomato contains about 3.7mg of lycopene so you would need to consume several to reach this amount. Therefore, consuming tomatoes in a sauce or supplement form (lycopene supplement) will allow this amount to be easier reached.
Neuro-Inflammation. An animal study found that lycopene administered after a spinal cord injury reduced pro-inflammatory factors, helping to repair a damaged blood brain barrier. This compound may be helpful in those with brain, spinal cord injuries and neuro-degenerative disorders.
Health Info: The antioxidants and essential oils (giving it its great smell) have been shown to be helpful in fighting free radicals (such as pollution, toxins, stress) and inflammation.
Use For: Fighting the Effects of Aging & Inflammation. Basil contains powerful antioxidants that have been shown to reduce cell damage and promote repair. We are constantly exposed to toxins in our environment such as pollution, chemicals, pesticides and more, so its good to incorporate herbs such as basil in our diet due to their high antioxidant content. Using antioxidant-rich foods in your diet will help slow down the aging process which may also reduce visible aging signs such as wrinkles.
Helping Prevent Infections. Basil's essential oils linalool, citronellol and eugenol help reduce inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. These compounds also have shown to be helpful in fighting bacteria and infections such as E.coli, as well as yeasts and mould.
Recipe Idea (Including Tomatoes & Basil): A tomato basil salad or bruschetta is a perfect way to let the natural flavours of these two stand out! http://vegecravings.com/tomato-basil-bruschetta-recipe/