Tomatoes health benefits includes preserving heart health, reducing cancer risk, helping manage symptoms of an enlarged prostate, supporting skin health, improving bone health, reducing risk of experiencing thromboembolic episodes, reducing extent of lipid per-oxidation and supporting eye health. Other benefits includes preventing progression of neurological conditions, supporting weight loss and improving immune function.
Tomatoes, known by their botanical name lycopersicon esculentum, are fruits (yes, not vegetables), and can even be categorized as berries if you are specific. Tomatoes can range in color and size from yellow, to orange and vivid red, and measure as little as half an inch in diameter, ranging up to 4 inches and even larger. While they are classified as fruits, they do not possess the characteristics “fruity” sweetness that we’ve become accustomed to, but possess a very mild sweetness which contrast with its tangy-acidic flavor.
Though associated strongly with Italy and the Mediterranean, this is not where they truly originated. Instead, this distinction belongs to the Western edges of South America, including areas such as Colombia and Ecuador. Explorers carried back to Europe seeds of this plant after its subsequent cultivation in the Mexican regions, making them now staples in many European cuisines.
Nutrition Info (per 100g serving)
Total Carbohydrate 4g
Dietary Fiber -1.5g 5% RDA
Vitamin A -840IU 17% RDA
Vitamin C -13mg 21% RDA
Vitamin E 0.5mg 3% RDA
Vitamin K 8mcg 10% RDA
Niacin – 0.6mg 3% RDA
Vitamin B6 -0.1mg 4% RDA
Folate – 15.0mcg 4% RDA
Calcium -10mg 1% RDA
Magnesium – 11mg 3% RDA
Phosphorus – 24mg 2% RDA
Potassium – 240 mg 7% RDA
Copper – 0.1mg 3% RDA
Manganese – 0.1mg 6% RDA
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
1. Tomatoes Preserve Heart Health
Regular consumption of tomatoes has numerous beneficial effects on the heart, owing largely to the presence of beta carotene and the rare anti-oxidant Lycopene. Studies have revealed that diets that contain the lowest amounts of these two nutrients are associated with great risk of heart disease and stroke. They help to reduce the impact of oxidative damage on the heart, prevents formation of dangerous blood clots, and also exert a cholesterol lowering effect. Maybe it’s time you listen to your mama and eat your tomatoes right?
2. Consumption of Tomatoes Reduces Cancer Risk
There is a growing body of evidence to support the fact that increasing your consumption of tomatoes is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, especially those of the prostate, colon and breast. These effects are heavily attributed to the presence of Lycopene, although other nutrients definitely play a supporting role. As more studies are undertaken, it is certain that the popularity and consumption of tomatoes will only skyrocket even more.
3. Help Manage Symptoms Of An Enlarged Prostate
There is a special role for tomatoes when it comes to male prostate health, as the compound Lycopene is capable of acting mildly like some medications used to control an enlarging prostate. Under the influence of the androgen DHT, cells of the prostate may respond and either rapidly increase in size, or number. While this growth is mainly harmless, it can lead to extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing situations, as the normal flow of urine becomes troublesome. Tomatoes are capable of blocking the production of some of this hormone, which diminishes the action it can have on the prostate gland. Plus, owing to the fact that Lycopene and tomatoes themselves are excellent anti-oxidant sources, it can prevent this generally benign growth from tripping and becoming cancerous.
4. Tomatoes Are Good For Your Skin
By volume, tomatoes are about 95% water, which makes them very helpful in maintaining the health of your skin. But that’s not all they do for you, as Lycopene has a UV ray reflecting property, reducing the possibility of damage as a result of sun exposure. Findings have observed more than a 40% reduction in development of sun burn in people who consume generous amounts of tomatoes, compared to those who do not.
5. Tomatoes Improve Bone Health
When thinking of bone and preservation, tomatoes aren’t the first thing that come to mind. And while we are not after its calcium or magnesium levels, its Lycopene levels are extremely beneficial for preventing oxidative damage to bone. Many people do not consider bone a living tissue, but while you are alive, so is bone. The importance of Lycopene was confirmed in postmenopausal women, who experienced accelerated bone loss when tomato consumption was discontinued.
6. Reduce The Risk Of Experiencing Thromboembolic Episodes
Thromboembolic episodes refer to conditions relating to abnormal platelet and blood cell clotting, such as that which occurs during a stroke or heart attack. Normally, these events occur following changes to blood and vessels slowly over time, frequently coupled with abnormal clotting. Tomatoes contain compounds which inhibit excessive clotting processes, and as a result can decrease your risk of suffering these debilitating events.
7. Tomatoes Reduce Extent Of Lipid Peroxidation
The insides of your blood vessels are lined with fats and lipids – this is an unchangeable part of our biochemistry. However, this also makes them prime targets for oxidative damage, and what is frequently the starting point for atherosclerosis and heart disease. Tomatoes, by virtue of its powerful anti-oxidant ability, reduces the extent of this oxidative damage, and slows down development of atherosclerotic plaques.
8. Tomatoes Are Good For Your Eyes
Tomatoes contain Vitamin A and its associated carotenoid anti-oxidants, which reduce damage to the macula of the eye, help safeguard the optic nerve and improve night vision. In addition, lycopene scavenges for the effects of free radicals, reducing symptoms of blurriness, cataracts and help keep eyes functioning optimally into old age.
9. May Prevent or Slow Progression Of Neurological Conditions
Many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s share an oxidative damage pathway, which if reduced, suppress the risk of development or speed of progression of the diseases. Lycopene exerts these powerful effects on preserving optimal brain function, which along with the modest amount of folate in tomatoes, can breakdown elevated homocysteine levels (which have a pro-inflammatory effect).
10. Tomatoes Offer Excellent Weight Loss Support
While dieting to lose weight, increased oxidation of fat cells is a normal occurrence. However, this is not without side-effects, as increased oxidation usually occurs on a system wide basis, increasing other oxidation related effects, such as possibility of accelerated skin damage. However, tomatoes can help offset this increased exposure to Oxidative stimuli, thanks to its generous amount of lycopene and other phytocompounds, including vitamins C and E. plus, they are very low calorie and filling, which makes them the perfect accompaniment to calorie restricted diets. Feel free to eat as much as you like, as you are unlikely to gain weight or experience adverse effects from having too much.
11. Tomatoes Improve Immune Function
Tomatoes are rich in many anti-oxidant vitamins, such as C and E, which reinforce the strength of the immune system by increasing production of white blood cells. A significant portion of the immune system is also in the digestive tract, although many people do not realize this, but luckily tomatoes soluble fiber can help support their nourishment too. Holistically, tomatoes offer unparalleled support for your immune system, so don’t skimp on this nutritional powerhouse.
Tomatoes are truly a superfood, whereas the word has been thrown around loosely for hundreds of fruits and vegetables- tomatoes stand tall. Their easy of consumption (whether raw or lightly cooked) makes them extremely versatile and easy to be incorporated into a variety of meals, or even as salads. They offer up important benefits for your health, making their place in diets of all types irreplaceable. What are you waiting for- pick up a juicy red tomato and bite right in!