To get all the health benefits of tomatoes, you have to cook them. Here's why, plus some tips.
Tomatoes should be on every man's "power foods" list for one main reason, or rather, one main nutrient: lycopene. This member of the carotenoid family could be the silver bullet in preventing prostate cancer. Consider the 1995 study that showed men who ate ten or more servings a week of tomatoes reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 35% and their risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 50%.
But There's a Catch
Unbeknownst to most is that the coveted lycopene is bound up in the cell walls and fiber. That means that you pretty much have to eat cooked or processed (canned) tomatoes to get at the lycopene. That also means that tomato paste, barbecue sauce, and ketchup are valid sources of bioavailable lycopene. Just get the low or no-sugar varieties. Or follow this recipe and make your own ketchup.
Lyopene also needs fat to get it into the bloodstream, so it's best to eat your tomatoes or tomato products with a bit of olive oil. You can also use sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil.