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Sometimes cooking foods causes loss of vitamins or other nutrients. But in the case of tomatoes, cooked is better than raw.

Many of the beneficial phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables are antioxidants, which our bodies use to repair cell damage caused by free radicals. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of breast, prostate, colon and other cancers.

If you eat raw tomatoes, most of the lycopene will pass through undigested. Cooking breaks down the cell walls and makes the lycopene available. Tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, ketchup, pizza sauce, tomato paste and salsa are all good sources of lycopenes.

Of course, you should still enjoy your raw tomatoes too! They're a great source of vitamin A and B, fiber and minerals; they're low in calories and they taste good. The bottom line: eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, cooked and raw; fresh, frozen, canned or dried.

Checked 5/3/07

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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