For many years I have recommended that men consume cooked tomatoes for their prostate diseases like prostate infections, benign prostate gland enlargement, and even prostate cancer.  I never understood why the tomatoes had to be cooked in order to achieve the benefits of consuming tomatoes.  I have always heard that cooking fruits and vegetables destroys the vitamins because they are heat sensitive.  A recent article in the New York Times explains the mechanism behind cooking the tomatoes in order to achieve the benefit of eating this fruit.  (Yes, a tomato is fruit, and more accurately, a berry because the tomato fruit exhibits all of the common characteristics of berries, i.e., a berry is a simple fruit with seeds and pulp produced from the ovary of a single flower).

Cooking tomatoes decreases the amount of vitamin C.  However, the cooking process increases levels of antioxidants, especially lycopenes, that are easily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract.  Lycopenes are a carotenoid plant pigment that helps protect the body from free radical damage.  The heat breaks down the cells of the tomatoes and allows some of the carotenoids to be released from the cell walls of the tomato.

Here’s the advice from the USDA: boiling has the harshest effect on heat-sensitive nutrients.  Stir-frying or sautéing retains more nutrients than boiling, but if you want to retain the nutrients, steaming and microwaving vegetables may be the optimal cooking methods.  But if you want to take care of your prostate, I suggest you cook your tomatoes because that will increase the antioxidant, lycopenes which have been proven to be helpful for your prostate gland.