Since firefighters are more prone to developing cancer than the general population, it is very important to eat foods which contain chemicals that fight against cancer: antioxidants and phytochemicals. Impressively, these nutrients both inhibit growth of cancer cells and tumors, and prevent DNA damage that can lead to cancer.
One such powerful phytochemical is called Lycopene, and it’s abundant in tomatoes.
Lycopene has been shown to be protective against many types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. The good news is that the Lycopene exists in any food made out of tomatoes, so that includes tomato/spaghetti sauce.
But that doesn’t mean you should fight cancer by putting ketchup all over everything, because there’s tons of added sugar and calories in ketchup that will increase your waistline. And being obese is a risk factor for developing cancer.
Speaking of having a healthy weight, tomatoes also have a lot of fiber in them, which helps you feel full. Fiber also reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Antioxidants And The Other GOOD Stuff!
Tomatoes also contain the antioxidant vitamins A and C. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals (unpaired electrons) in the body which reduces inflammation and DNA damage that leads to cancer and heart disease.
And there are other nutrients in tomatoes that bring about even more health benefits. Vitamin A helps protect against macular degeneration, Vitamin K improves bone health and wards off osteoporosis, and potassium provides protection against high blood pressure.
Tomatoes also contain the B-vitamins Folate, Thiamin and Niacin, which help the body to produce energy. Tomatoes have also been shown to protect against kidney and gallbladder stones. And since they contain a natural inflammatory, some studies have shown that a diet rich in tomatoes can alleviate chronic pain. They also contain a substance called chromium that helps regulate blood sugar.
Put Tomatoes In Tonight’s Dinner!
Don’t forget that tomatoes are a fruit (or a vegetable if you’re old school), so they count toward the 3 to 5 cups of fruit and vegetables (combined) that you should be eating daily to slash your risk of developing chronic disease and live a long, high-quality life (and they count even if they’re in a burrito).
Like the other foods in my top 5 foods firefighters must eat, tomatoes are inexpensive and they can be found at any grocery store. There are so many varieties, you can add some kind of tomato to almost anything. What’s more, they add volume to things like salads, while adding very few calories. So you feel fuller on fewer calories. So for those big firehouse pasta meals, choose a tomato based sauce over a creamy sauce if you want to slash calories and reap all the health benefits listed above.
Part 4 of 6