You Say Tomato, I Say (Tangerine) Tomahto

Toasted white bread. Mayo. American cheese. Salt, pepper, and two thick slices of fresh-picked red ripe tomato.

Growing up, that was our family’s classic summer sandwich. On a hot day, there really wasn’t anything better.

We now know that the white bread, mayo, and processed cheese are best avoided or eaten only as a very special treat. But the tomato? That’s one of the healthiest summer fruits you can find. And if you grow it yourself or get it local and organic, you really can’t go wrong.

Thanks to the clever marketing of Heinz ketchup, many people are aware that it’s the lycopene content of tomatoes that researchers believe hold most of their health benefits.

Lycopene has been shown to have strong antioxidant properties, and numerous studies have linked diets high in lycopene-rich foods, like tomatoes, to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and eye diseases. And it’s been found to be especially protective against prostate cancer.

Just last week, I wrote about how women who ate lycopene-rich tomato paste for 12 weeks experienced protection against sunburn and sun damage compared with women who did not eat the tomato paste.

And since then, I’ve come across two more studies showing lycopene-rich foods can help protect against sunburn and sun damage. (1) (2)

Eating red tomatoes is a great way to get lycopene; they supply about 80% of lycopene in the American diet. And unlike with many other vitamins and phytonutrients, cooking tomatoes actually increases the bioavailability of lycopene (meaning how much you absorb). Cooking tomatoes in olive oil can increase the bioavailability of lycopene even further. (3)

And now a new study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests there is an even better source of lycopene than red tomatoes: the bright orange tangerine tomato. (4)

Tangerine tomato

In this study, researchers gave participants a meal containing either tangerine tomato juice or red tomato juice and then measured their blood levels of lycopene. Then after a washout period, the participants switched to the other type of tomato and the researchers again measured their lycopene blood levels.

Surprisingly, the tangerine tomatoes boosted blood levels of lycopene about 8.5-fold better than the red tomatoes!

It was a small study — only 11 participants — and the researchers noted there were a lot of individual differences in absorption among the study participants.

But another study published in back in 2009 had similar findings. In this study, 21 men and women were fed either red or tangerine tomato chili for one week. Again, the tangerine tomatoes boosted lycopene levels greater than the red tomatoes. The researchers also found that while both types of tomatoes decreased markers of oxidative damage, the tangerine tomatoes produced better results. (5)

The reason for the enhanced bioavailability in tangerine tomatoes appears to be due to the form of lycopene in them: Red tomatoes contain mostly trans-lycopene, while tangerine tomatoes have more tetra-cis-lycopene.

So where can you find tangerine tomatoes? I can’t say I’ve ever seen them in any chain grocery stores, so checking for them at a local farmer’s market is your best bet. Shopping at the farmer’s market is a great idea, anyway, as the produce is going to be much fresher and nutrient dense than what you get at the grocery store. If you can’t find them anywhere, you can buy tangerine tomato seeds online and plant them in your garden next year.

Either way, be sure to take advantage of fresh local tomatoes this summer. They’re a great source of antioxidants that can help protect you against free radicals that can damage DNA and lead to cancer. Tomatoes are also rich in vitamins C and A and are a good source of potassium, which helps keep blood pressure levels in the healthy range.

Stew them in some oil to make a tomato sauce. Layer the sauce on zucchini sliced length-wise, top with some parmesan cheese and bake for a low carb “pizza.” Or make a caprese salad: slice them up, layer with fresh organic mozzarella cheese, drizzle with balsamic and olive oil, and top with fresh chopped garlic and basil.

Have you ever tried or grown tangerine tomatoes? Let me know!

To living well,

Jasmine LeMaster

View More Free Articles

Tasty FAT Hack SLASHES Heart Risk

Is your heart trying to tell you something? Are little warning signs appearing that your ticker may be in trouble someday soon? You may have noticed your blood pressure creeping UP or your energy levels dialing DOWN. Or everyday tasks leave you feeling more winded than usual. Don’t ignore those signs. Your heart could be...

Read This

Mailbag: Why Am I DIZZY When I Stand Up?

“My wife has had some dizziness when standing up quickly. Should she be concerned? A friend suggested it could be related to her blood pressure medication?” – Frank (Article continues below.) Hi Frank, Low blood pressure when standing after sitting or lying down is called orthostatic or postural hypotension. Typically, someone will feel dizzy or...

Read This

Stay “Forever Young” with THIS Taste Bud Trick

We all want to remain youthful, healthy, and vibrant as we age. But that’s easier said than done. Sure, you can fork over the cash for the latest designer anti-aging cream, drink gallons of raw water (whatever that is?), and try to survive on a diet consisting only of green veggies. But the answer to...

Read This

FINALLY an Exercise Routine You Can LOVE

Bored to tears by repetitive trips to the gym? Rather walk across hot coals that try another one of the frantic routines presented by perky fitness gurus on TV? Do long walks on the treadmill feel about as thrilling as watching paint dry? New research reveals the answer to your workout prayers… Strap on your...

Read This

The HIDDEN Harm of Mouth Breathing

It’s a habit often hurled as an insult by movie bullies and internet trolls. Yet over HALF of us are  “mouth breathers.” And, as I’m sure you already know, despite the insults, mouth breathing doesn’t have a thing to do with intelligence. But new research reveals it DOES have a downside. Mouth breathing could leave...

Read This

Produce Aisle Secret SUPERCHARGES Aging Muscles

The change is subtle at first. But it grows with each passing year. Muscle loss sneaks up on us. But, as we pass through middle age and beyond, it can start to take its toll in unexpected ways. Maybe carrying the groceries inside becomes just a bit harder. Or climbing the stairs to the bedroom...

Read This

The BEST Brew for Antiaging and Weight Loss

The battle between coffee and green tea lovers has raged for decades. Both beverages have passionate, devoted fans. And each is convinced their drink of choice is THE elixir of life. But when it boils down to SPECIFIC benefits, is one better than the other? Is green tea or coffee superior at fighting aging? How...

Read This

Feeling Forgetful? Nutrient Tag-Team EASES Your Mind

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you have something fun planned with a loved one. Speaking of plans—remember that time you FORGOT Valentine’s and were in the doghouse for days? Or maybe it was your keys, a doctor’s appointment, or even the waitress’s name that’s served you coffee for the last three years instead. Regardless of...

Read This

2 for 1 Deal Protects Your Eyes AND Your Brain!

Yesterday, I warned you about a link between vision loss and cognitive impairment. It turns out common cataracts don’t just rob you of your vision… they could also do a number on your brain. But there was GOOD news, too. That decline may be reversible! If you missed that issue, CLICK HERE to catch up...

Read This

Vision Thief Threatens MORE Than Your Sight

You wake up one morning, and something seems off. The world looks a bit hazy, as if you’re peering through a thin veil. Colors appear dull and muted. And reading becomes more difficult as words on the page blur together. You assume you just need a new eyeglass prescription, but the TRUE culprit has been...

Read This