Tomatoes are good for you, but these fruits are even better when paired with olive oil. By Sasha Gonzales
How to make your tomatoes even better for you. (Photo: Anelka / www.pixabay.com)
Those of you who love tomatoes: good news. Not only is this delicious superfood low in calories, the bright red fruit has loads of benefits.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene – a phytonutrient that reduces the risk of skin cancer, says Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants. It may also help lower your risk of stroke, according to research published in the journal Neurology. Plus, this superfood contains high levels of betacarotene, an antioxidant that supports the immune system and helps maintain healthy skin too.
Get more of the antioxidant, lycopene, when you cook tomatoes in olive oil.
Tomatoes are Better with Olive Oil Because…
As lycopene is a fat-soluble antioxidant, it is best absorbed by the body when consumed with healthy fats like olive oil. And you are best off cooking the tomatoes in olive oil as cooked tomatoes provide significantly more lycopene than raw ones.
A study in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that women who consumed 55g of tomato paste in olive oil over 12 weeks had significantly less skin redness and damage from UV exposure than those who didn’t.
How to Prepare a Meal with Tomatoes and Olive Oil
A couple of ways to enjoy this healthy combination is to make your own pasta sauce using fresh or canned tomatoes, or grill cherry tomatoes and dress them with good-quality olive oil.
Or try this recipe by our readers, Terry Jude Mascarenhas and Aruna L. Enjoy!
Recipe: Mixed Vegetable Stuffed Tomato Cups (serves 3)
Mixed Vegetable Stuffed Tomato (Photo: Terry Jude Mascarenhas and Aruna L)
Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time : 10 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2.5cm ginger, grated
3 large tomatoes
1 carrot, finely chopped
6 French beans, finely chopped
Handful of green peas
6 canned mushrooms, finely chopped
Pinch of red chilli powder
Pinch of garam masala powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
6 tsp cheddar cheese, grated
1. Remove stems from tomatoes. Halve them and spoon out pulp. Set aside.
2. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in pan and fry cumin seeds till brown. Add onions, green chilli, ginger, tomato pulp, carrots, French beans, peas and mushrooms. Once cooked, stir in red chilli powder, garam masala and coriander leaves. Remove from heat and spoon mixture into tomato halves.
3. Place filled tomato halves on baking tray and drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil. Top each half with one teaspoon cheese. Bake at 200 deg C for eight minutes, or until desired doneness. Garnish and serve.
Bonus: For a more complete meal, add half a cup of cooked basmati rice to the tomato filling, suggests Vanessa McNamara, founder of Singapore-based nutrition consultancy The Travelling Dietitian. Basmati rice is low on the glycaemic index (making you feel fuller for a longer time) and high in antioxidants and vitamins. It also has fewer calories than white rice.
Nutrition score per serving
227 calories, 11.6g fat (2.4g saturated), 27.3g carbs, 7.5g protein, 9.1g fibre, 62mg sodium