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Tomatoes Grown in Leonidio

“Tomatoes just don’t taste like they used to in the past”, is a comment which is heard quite often.

Leonidio’s Agricultural Cooperative working alongside the specialists, strive to guide Leonidio farmers towards advanced methods of production. This entails targeted, and only when necessary, fertilizing in order to ensure a marketable but flavourful produce.

Leonidio’s annual tomato yield averages approximately 4,000 tons. Varieties include Elpida, Matias, Mantona, Erani, Beladona and Sonato. Tomatoes are cultivated, on the one hand, in hothouses, under strict supervision by scientists, and by contemporary means such as hydroponia. Alternatively, they are grown outdoors using traditional means which have been taught by past generations. In this way, they are in tandem with tradition and expert guidance.

Nutritional Value

Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a very good source of Vitamin K, copper, lead, pyridoxide (Vitamin B6) and dietary fiber. Moreover, they are a good source of potassium, manganese, Vitamin A and Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, folic acid, pantothenic acid). They also contain magnesium, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin E and protein. They are also in abundance of the carotenoid lycopene, which is known for its antioxidant action and its anticancer properties.

One cup of ripe tomato meets 25% of the daily allowance of Vitamin C, over 10% of the daily allowance of Vitamin K, copper and lead (12%),Vitamin B6 (11%) and fiber (9-11%), potassium (9%), manganese (9%) and Vitamin A (8%). Moreover, it meets 7% of the daily allowance of folic acid, Vitamin B3 and chrome, and 5-6% of phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamin E and iron.

Tomato consumption has also been associated with the prevention of different types of cancer such as colon, prostate, breast, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancer. Tomato consumption also helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. This action is attributed to lycopene, a carotenoid of powerful antioxidant action which is found in tomatoes. According to one medical study, people who consumed more lycopene had a 31% less risk of getting pancreatic cancer (Journal of Nutrition, 2005). However, as more and more studies are concluding, this beneficial effect of lycopene applies only when it is consumed from a natural source, such as tomatoes, rather than in pure substance form. To illustrate this point, research on animals showed that a consumption of tomato products and not an intake of lycopene helped the prevention of prostate cancer. (Published study in the scientific magazine Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2003). Twenty-one studies that followed (published in the scientific journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomakers and Prevention, 2004) indeed confirmed the first findings. The combined data gathered from these 21 studies showed that men who had consumed raw tomatoes presented an 11% less risk of getting prostate cancer. Also noteworthy is that individuals who consumed cooked tomatoes had a 19% reduced risk. A daily serving of 200 grams of raw tomatoes (about 1 cup) reduced risk by 3%. Similar results apply to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. An additional study on animals (published in the science journal Free Radical Research, 2003) revealed that tomato juice, and not lycopene alone had cardio disease preventive properties.

These findings may be due to the fact that the lycopene content found in tomatoes works in conjunction with other phytochemicals in order to produce these beneficial results. Other active substances found in tomatoes, such as kaepferol and chlorogenic acid prevent the mutation of cancer cells. Moreover, tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin C and A, lead and copper which strengthen antioxidant action. As for the cardiovascular system in particular, other nutrients found in tomatoes have preventative properties. Solved dietary fiber acts to aid in the reduction of cholesterol in the bloodstream while folic acid and pyridoxide are vital in the conversion of the potentially harmful molecule homocysteine into a harmless byproduct. In addition, potassium and magnesium prevent high blood pressure.

Tomatoes are also a very good source of Vitamin K which is important in maintaining healthy bones, either by activating osteocalcin, a protein which increases calcium concentration in bones, or by means of other mechanisms (published studies in science magazine Journal of Nutrition and Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 1996). Finally, tomatoes are rich in chrome which helps diabetics maintain their glucose count at normal levels. This can be attributed to (solved) dietary fiber, whereas another type (dissolved) dietary fibre, which is found in the exterior skin of tomatoes, can facilitate in the smooth function of digestion.

What to take into consideration

Choose tomatoes that are rich and deep in colour. This not only ensures a rich flavour, but a deep colour also indicates a high content of the antioxidant lycopene.

Store tomatoes at room temperature. In this way, they will last longer (about a week).
If you wish to hasten the ripening process, place them on a paper bag, alongside an apple or banana. If, on the other hand, the tomatoes are overly ripe and you do not wish to consume them immediately, they can be well preserved in the refrigerator.

Consume tomatoes with their outer skin, either in salads or in cooked meals to ensure maximum intake of lycopene. Unripe tomatoes, however, can cause gastrointestinal disorders and should not be eaten raw.