Tomatoes and broccoli are one of today's hot couples in the diet and nutrition world. Research has found that eating broccoli and tomatoes together may maximize the amount of cancer protection both foods afford. In a recent study, lab animals fed a combination of tomatoes and broccoli had markedly less prostate tumor growth than both those who ate diets containing either food alone, and those on diets containing the specific cancer-fighting substances isolated from tomatoes and broccoli.
Lycopene is one natural substance in tomatoes that has attracted a great deal of attention in the last decade as a prostate cancer fighter. Tomatoes also are rich in vitamin C and contain good amounts of vitamins A and B, potassium, iron and phosphorus.
Broccoli also has been recognized for its anti-cancer potential. It is known to contain phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which break down into compounds that help enzymes flush carcinogens from the body. Broccoli also is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as riboflavin, calcium and iron.
The "take-home message" of the recent study on broccoli and tomatoes is not to focus on specific foods to ward off serious diseases. The larger lesson of health-related research appears to be that the interaction, or synergy, between a variety of foods is more powerful in protecting our health than the unique features of particular foods. Nutritionists and other health experts advise that eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other plant-based foods is a more effective approach to a healthy, longer life than concentrating on the "magic bullet" of individual foods. In other words, variety is not only the "spice of life," but the key to a healthier life.
When buying broccoli, select heads with a deep, strong color, tightly-closed buds, and crisp leaves. When choosing tomatoes, try grape tomatoes for a change of pace. They are sweet, firm and not overly juicy. They can be used interchangeably with cherry tomatoes, both as part of a meal and as a garnish. They should be stored at room temperature – never be refrigerated, which turns them into tasteless pulp.
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Broccoli and tomatoes look pretty and taste great together. A broccoli-tomato salad is a nice winter vegetable, pleasing to the eye and good for the body.
Broccoli Tomato Salad
Makes 8 servings.
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup finely diced green onion (white and green parts)
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
- 2-1/2 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Steam broccoli until barely tender but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a strainer or colander and rinse briefly under cold running water to stop cooking process. Drain well and allow to dry.
- Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add seeds and toast, shaking pan gently or stirring constantly, until lightly browned.
- In a medium bowl, gradually whisk together mustard with the vinegar and oregano, then the oil. Add broccoli, tomatoes and onion, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the salad.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
5 g. total fat,
Less than 1 g. saturated fat,
5 g. carbohydrate,
2 g. protein,
2 g. dietary fiber,
46 mg. sodium
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Vegetable, 1 Fat