Paying attention to the food we are eating, choosing whole grain rice, bread and pasta, fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants, legumes and extra virgin olive oil is a first step to live healthier and longer. Not to mention that what we eat acts also on the gut by modifying the intestinal flora that, according to the latest scientific researches, affect the general health and also the mood. But another important step is also to choose the food combinations in order to balance the nutrients, improve the absorption of some substances or to avoid food combinations that, on the contrary, may reduce some healthy effects. For this reason, it is important not just what we eat but how we eat! Today we will speak about the best food combinations focused on a vegetable that is often present in our recipes, in all seasons, as a juicy ingredient in salads in summer and as a sauce to season pasta, rice or fish in the cold period, the tomato. Tomato is a powerful source of antioxidants, such as lycopene, a pigment that gives the red color, of vitamins, especially vitamin C in the mature product, able to support the immune system, but also of malic, arabic and lactic acid that give digestive properties and are able to stimulate the appetite. However, tomato contains also a very high quantity of mineral salts and oxalates and may promote the formation of kidney stones. For this reason, if you like to eat raw tomatoes, a good food combination is given by a salad prepared with tomato and onion or olives, that have draining and diuretic properties and will support the work of the kidneys to remove the excess of mineral salts. Then, right for this abundance of mineral salts, it is better to avoid eating raw tomato together with other vegetables, except of course onions and olives as we have seen, because in this way the risk of formation of microcrystals and thus stones may increase (Fausto Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of foods, 2015). Tomatoes can be eaten also cooked and, also in this preparation, they continue to be very interesting from the point of view of health. Cooking indeed, although it destroys the vitamin C, at the same time increases the availability of lycopene. However, in order to improve the absorption of this amazing substance, it is needed, in addition to the exposure of the tomato to heat, to serve it with a fat, for example the extra virgin olive oil (Perdomo et al, Nutr Hosp, Sep-Oct 2012). For this reason a tomato sauce prepared with extra virgin olive oil is a good way to introduce in the body the lycopene, a powerful antioxidant substance, with anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects, able to protect the cardiovascular system and with a preventive role against some types of cancers, such as that of prostate and, but in this case the thesis is still debated, of breast and lung (Mozos et al, Front Pharmacol, May 2018 – Chen et al, Medicine, Aug 2015 – Fornelli et al, Toxicol in Vitro, Mar 2007 – Palozza et al, Cancers, Jun 2011). Not just sauce, there are also other methods to prepare tomatoes in order to increase the presence of lycopene in blood, for example you can cut the tomatoes into slices, season them with extra virgin olive oil, some chopped parsley, peppermint, lesser calamint and a pinch of breadcrumbs and bake them in the oven, this is a wonderful, and lycopene-full, side dish. Another tasty alternative to tomato sauce is given by dry tomatoes in oil, you can use them to prepare a dressing to season pasta with garlic, chili pepper, extra virgin olive oil and dry tomatoes cut into pieces.
Food combinations, raw tomatoes and cooked tomatoes
The best food combinations to eat raw tomatoes and cooked tomatoes in order to maximize the beneficial effects of this incredible vegetable.