Tomato is fruit but consumed as a vegetable. Scientifically known as Solanum Lycopersicum, this red berry has been growing wild in South America, till the spanish colonialists brought the fruit to Europe. The growing of this fruit spread to all all other countries of Asia and Africa, through the europeans.
A storehouse of healthy chemicals
This berry is low in fat but high in important chemicals like,Naringenin and Chlorogenic acid, Beta Catotene and Lycopene.Naringenin is a flavonoid that is found in the skin of the fruit. Both naringenin and chlonogenic acids are anti oxidants. Yellow in hue, Beta carotene is good for eyes and as it converts itself into Vitamin A in the body. Lycopene is the major chemical that has shown to have strong anti cancer properties.
What causes cancer?
Cancer is caused due to unrestrained multiplciation of cells with faulty DNA. The system loses the capacity to rectify faulty DNA and the means to cause the automatic death of cells with faulty DNA. This causes tumors.
What are the basic functions of DNA?
Deoxyriboneulic acids, in short DNA, the storehouse of the herriditary information is very crucial for life. DNA also controls the cell activities through the systhesis of specific sequence of messenger RNA which then travels to the ribosomes that read the sequence of the RNA, to produce the protein that are expressed in the body.
What causes the damage to DNA?
This heavy piece of stranded protein is valuable to attack through the free radicals, ionising radiation. Metabolic processes in the body release a host of chemicals that attack the stranded DNA, thus distorting it or implanting different atoms in the strand. Reactive groups of nitrogen, oxygen, caboxyl and methyl groups or ultraviolet radiation, do the damage to the DNA.
It is not necessary that defective DNA must replicate always. If the damaged DNA is repaired by various enzymatic actions then normal functions could be restored. If not it would lead to ageing and age related diseases.
But when the damaged DNA replicates to help the host cells to multiply, this mean transfer of defective DNA to the next generation cells. This is not healthy and will lead to tumors. However, the same process of repair is activated through various triggers. If the repair fails and the DNA replicates, there is specific process of initiating apoptosis, that is cell death.
Role of P53 and MDM2 proteins
P53 and MDM2 are 2 proteins that act in tandem to check the damaged DNA. When the DNA is replicated normal, the P53 is deactivated and MDM2 remains active. When the damaged DNA is replicated, it is through a complex chemical mechanism, the MDM2 is deactivated through phosporylation and P53 is activated. P53 binds to the the defective replicated protein and tries to repair it. If that fails it triggers apoptosis. Thus killing the potential of propagation of tumor.
Lycopene, a shield against free radicals that causes oxidative stress
Lycopene, a carotinoid, plays an import role in the protection of the P53 protein. It is protects the protein from being deactivated or damaged due to oxidative stress. It is much more powerful than Beta carotene and Tocopherol.
Smokers who have damaged DNA due to excessive nicotene inhalation can find some relief in tomatoes. Lycopene help in repair of the DNA. Even in the case of gastric cancer, lycopene prevents the propagation of the cancerous cells. Moreover, in general the ability of the chemical to trap the free radicals that have the potential to cause damage to the DNA is well utllized.
The stressful lifestyle and ever-increasing pollution, provide the abundant source of free radicals within the body and arround us. These have the potential to cause DNA damage, leading to premature aging or cancers. It is adviseable to take tomatoes frequently for adequate supply of lycopene in the system to trap those radicals.
Tomatoes, the useful ingredient of a tasty salad
Tomatoes are best taken uncooked as a salad. It preseves all the nutrients and the chemicals. Otherwise, it could be taken as a soup with spices for good results. Moreover, there is no end to tomato preparations: jam, jellies and curries.
Caution against excessive consumption of tomatoes
A strong word of caution against tomatoes in excess. Eating tomatoes in great quantities will lead to acidity as the fruit contains citric acid and Malic acid. It can lead to deposition of acid crystals in the kidneys leading to kidney stones. People suffering from prostate cancers should avoid as it might aggravate the issue.