When you’re living at the mercy of nature, (whose bounty can be very fickle), you need access to smart foods. You’ll want to keep some foods around that are not only nutritious, but that will also make you feel full on a modest portion. If it also happens to ward off a myriad of dread diseases, so much the better. Say hello to what might be a survivor’s best friend: the tomato.
Evidence is emerging that suggests our plump red pal contains a mystery compound that suppresses hormones that trigger our appetite. Preventing those pesky snack attacks has a lot of obvious advantages for us, whether we are living under normal circumstances or under the austerity of survival conditions. Staying slim by not overeating may be a great benefit now, but think of those longs days and nights of rationing out a diminishing food supply, and nothing seems to satisfy your continual hunger. A filling bite of a tomato to take the edge off would be heaven sent.
A French study compared the filling effect of sandwiches made with a tomato-enriched bread, carrot-enriched bread, and plain white bread. Women of average weight between 18 and 35 were the subjects. Amazingly, the fiber-rich carrots were not the winner. Only the tomato bread kept the women satisfied and full. So, if you only have a slice of cheese or a share of a can of tuna for today’s rations, a couple slices of tomato might be just the thing to turn those few precious bites into a fulfilling meal.
The results are incomplete, and it remains to be determined if tomatoes lower the level of the hunger-producing hormones, like ghrelin. The part of the tomato that curbs the appetite has not been isolated yet either, though some suspect that it may be the red pigment, lycopene.
Regardless of lycopene’s connection to appetite, it is another reason to plant plenty of tomatoes in your survival garden. Lycopene is linked to a reduction in a host of cancers including prostate, breast, cervical, skin, pancreatic, and even lung cancer—plus it slows down the progression of some cancers that have already occurred as well.
But wait! There’s more…
Tomato juice and ketchup have been shown to significantly reduce levels of cholesterol, thus promoting heart health as well. Tomatoes also keep skin healthy and looking young, and actually help to minimize sunburn. They have a ton of vitamin C, which has healing, preventative, and nutritional properties—like warding off colds, promoting wounds to heal more quickly and completely, and allowing the body to absorb iron. Tomatoes are rich in fiber, and they have lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep you young and energetic.
Tomatoes are easy to grow, and will grow under many diverse conditions. One plant yields many fruits, and one fruit has enough seeds for a hundred new plants. They can stay on the vine for a long time; they can ripen and survive after picking for a long time; and they don’t require refrigeration. With all of these benefits, I’m thinking that a good share of my garden will be dedicated to this versatile vegi-fruit. You can eat it raw, on a sandwich, in a salad, grilled, boiled, or in soup. You can juice it, make ketchup, salsa, tomato sauce for spaghetti sauce or chili, and it can be sundried too. Is there anything I’m leaving out? Oh…and it tastes pretty good too.