Most of us know people that had or have cancer. It’s a disease that can have many causes and can affect any area of the body. Two of my grandparents had cancer, along with a friend and the mother of another friend. It’s a scary disease and one that has harsh conventional treatments once diagnosed.
The best method is prevention, but with a disease that is so versatile, what is the best way to prevent this devastating disease? The key lies in our diets. That is one factor that is completely under our control. Other factors, such as environmental conditions and genetics are out of our control. It may be overwhelming trying to overhaul your entire diet all at once.
As a gardener, an easy initial step you can take immediately is to look at incorporating tomatoes—which contain lycopene—into your diet. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit the rapid reproduction of prostate, lung, breast and endometrial cancer cells. Better yet, there are ways to quadruple the cancer-fighting potency of tomatoes and I will show you how.
Tips on Growing Your Own Disease-Fighting Tomato Garden
Choose the right type of tomato When you’re looking at those with the best cancer-fighting properties, you may want to go orange instead of the typical red tomatoes. In a study by scientists at Ohio State University, they made two batches of sauce. One was made from tangerine tomatoes and the other was made with red Roma tomatoes.
People in the study absorbed about two and a half times more lycopene (believed to be one of the key cancer-fighting components) from the sauce made with the tangerine tomatoes. The lycopene in tangerine tomatoes might be more fat-soluble, meaning that it is more easily absorbed and used by the body. You can, however, boost the lycopene in red tomatoes by heating them, which is described below.
Organic tomatoes are always best. Because they have such thin skin, tomatoes will easily absorb pesticides and other chemicals. When I was a kid, I remember eating tomatoes right out of the garden and I could do it since my parents never used any chemicals. If at all possible, try to keep your garden organic.
It is more difficult to grow tomatoes using organic methods because they are particularly susceptible to pests and diseases. However, there are a number of organic methods of pest control and you can head many of them off by knowing what signs to look for on your plants.
Below is a video that shows you in less than 3 minutes, how to make an organic pesticide:
Protect Your Tomatoes
If you want to worry less about pests, diseases and other tomato ailments (which you probably will after one season of fighting them), then controlling the environment of your tomatoes is your best bet. If you have the room, you can grow tomatoes indoors, but most folks don’t have that kind of unused space in their homes.
Another great option that controls the environment is to buy or build your own greenhouse. This doesn’t have to mean a huge polycarbonate eyesore in your front yard. There are greenhouses of all shapes and sizes these days, including tiny ones that could fit in a few square feet of space and still do the job.
How to Increase the Cancer-Fighting Potency of Your Tomatoes
Boost a Tomato’s Power with Heat
Unlike most vegetables, a tomato’s power is increased when the tomato is heated or cooked. This process increases lycopene content that is bioavailable to the body. This contradicts the popular belief that cooked vegetables and fruits always have less nutritional value than those that are raw.
When a tomato sample was heated to 88 degrees Celsius (about 190F) for 15 minutes, the beneficial trans-lycopene increased by 171 percent over raw tomatoes. This is an ideal amount of time to use the tomatoes to make a sauce. Another study found that re-heating it for 40 minutes at 260 degrees further enhances the lycopene available (yay for leftovers!).
Boost a Tomato’s Power By Combining it With Oil
That same study found that adding oil is also a key component of making the lycopene more usable by the body. This news just keeps getting better! The addition of fat helps the body absorb the lycopene though the researchers admittedly don’t know why that is. They also note that commercial tomato sauce does not have the same beneficial characteristics, you have to make it yourself. It’s also worth pointing out that these are not high temperatures for cooking. Using high heat can damage foods, so use only what is necessary.
Below is a great little video to get you started with a homemade tomato sauce:
Boost a Tomato’s Power By Combining it With Other Vegetables
There are also several ways to increase the disease-fighting potency of tomatoes by combining them with other healthy veggies from your garden.
Combine tomatoes and broccoli This combination is great for fighting prostate cancer. Tomatoes contain lycopene, vitamin A and vitamin C, while broccoli contains isothiocyanates, beta-carotene and indoles. All of these things help to fight cancer on their own, but are more powerful against prostate cancer when combined.
In a study conducted at the University of Illinois, it was found that this combination shrank prostate tumors more than any of the foods did on their own.
Combine tomatoes and avocado
In a study where people ate more than 10 serving lycopene a week, the total risk of prostate cancer was reduced by 35 percent. Another study that was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women with higher level of lycopene had a 22 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
By combining tomato and avocado, the fat from the avocado increases the proportion of lycopene that enters circulation. To make it easy on you, you can get pure avocado oil to use for cooking. It’s not the cheapest oil you can get but it’s very healthful and can withstand reasonably high heat without degrading.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial about the different ways you can acquire the best tomatoes and use them to fight cancer. It begins by using the best organic tomatoes and then processing them correctly.
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