There are numerous ways to consume tomatoes and potentially reap their many health benefits.
Tomatoes are technically fruits because they meet the botanical definition of one: they are the fleshy plant parts surrounding the seeds. Tomatoes are considered a vegetable for nutritional and culinary purposes due to their flavor, culinary applications, and nutrient content.
Tomato Dietary Information
According to the USDA, one hundred grams of ripe, red tomatoes contain the following:
- Calories: 18 calories
- Fat: <1 gramme
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 5 milligrams
- Carbohydrates:3.89 grams
- Fiber: 1.20 grams
- Protein: <1 gram
Tomatoes are low in calories and contain essential nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium. They are also rich in antioxidants; lycopene, the pigment responsible for tomatoes’ distinctive hue, has been linked to numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
According to research, tomatoes in their various forms (fresh, cooked, and juiced) protect against chronic diseases and promote an active lifestyle.
1. May be Beneficial for Brain Health
Alzheimer’s disease affects 10% of adults aged 65 and older in the United States.
The disease, which affects memory, thinking, and behavior, is an incurable form of dementia that worsens over time.
The antioxidants in tomatoes, such as lycopene, may protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to studies. However, additional research is required to confirm this association. Over a four-year period, a high lycopene intake was associated with a slower decline in cognitive function in participants aged 70 or older.
To better understand the true relationship between the potential protective effects of tomatoes and Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, additional research on humans, specifically on 60- to 65-year-old adults, is necessary.
2. May Aid in Preventing Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and other serious health issues. It requires at least three of the following conditions:
- A large waistline
- elevated blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- High levels of blood triglycerides or blood fats
- Low “beneficial” HDL cholesterol
Approximately one-third of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome.
According to researchers, lycopene status, which refers to the amount of lycopene in the blood, or lycopene consumption may be associated with beneficial changes in the components of metabolic syndrome. And tomatoes are a primary source of lycopene.
In a small study, 15 participants drank tomato juice once a day, four times a week, for two months, with no quantity specified. The group experienced significant reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol, increases in “good” HDL cholesterol, and improvements in fasting insulin levels despite the absence of a standard juice dose.
3. Protects Cardiovascular Health
Diets high in tomatoes have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death among American adults.
105 According to a review of 25 previously published studies, a high intake of lycopene and high blood levels of antioxidants reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14%.
Another study of healthy individuals examined the effect of a single dose of raw tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato sauce with olive oil on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. All three doses decreased blood cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of blood fat while increasing HDL cholesterol and anti-inflammatory levels. The tomato sauce with olive oil had the greatest effect, most likely because the olive oil enhanced lycopene absorption. 5 could aid in preventing constipation
4. Insufficient Fluids and Fiber Can Cause Constipation
One tomato contains more than four ounces of liquid and 1.5 grams of fiber.
Tomatoes’ water content and dietary fibers are known to promote hydration and regular bowel movements. Tomatoes are a significant source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. In digestion, soluble fiber retains water to create a gel-like consistency. In contrast, insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool. Both of these modifications result in easier-to-pass waste. 14 The cellulose, hemicelluloses, and pectins fibers in tomatoes are resistant to digestion in the large intestine and contribute to the formation of healthy stool. 13 could aid in preventing type 2 diabetes
In the United States, 14.7% of adults have type 2 diabetes and 38% have prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
Some research indicates that lycopene’s antioxidant properties aid in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. This protects cells from damage, reduces inflammation, and strengthens the body’s defenses. The fiber in tomatoes can also help prevent diabetes.
5. May Cancer Risk Reduction
Lycopene and beta-carotene, two antioxidants found in tomatoes, have anticancer properties. They accomplish this in part by preventing DNA damage in cells that can lead to the development of cancer and by killing cancer cells.
Multiple studies have found that men who consume more tomatoes, particularly cooked tomatoes, have a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
Eating non-starchy vegetables like tomatoes has been associated with a reduced risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast tumors, colon, rectum, lung, stomach, and upper aerodigestive tract cancers (like the mouth, throat, and nasal sinuses).
6. May Assist in Post-Exercise Recovery
Research indicates that exercise can damage proteins in the body and that the antioxidants in tomatoes may help mitigate this effect. One study found that taking 3.5 ounces of tomato juice post-exercise for two months improved athletes’ recovery. In a separate study, 15 healthy non-athletes pedaled a bicycle for 20 minutes after consuming 5 ounces of tomato juice for five weeks, followed by five weeks without tomato juice and five weeks with the juice. Blood samples revealed that when tomato juice was consumed, blood markers associated with exercise-induced damage were significantly reduced.
7. Might Help The Immune Function
Tomato juice’s vitamin C and beta-carotene may support the immune system.
One study discovered that tomato juice significantly increased the number of immune cells, including natural killer cells, which are known to combat viruses.
8. Might Promote Male Fertility
A 12-week study compared the effects of 190 grams (almost 7 ounces) of tomato juice per day versus an antioxidant capsule or a placebo in male infertility patients. In comparison to the placebo group, tomato juice significantly increased lycopene levels in men’s blood and sperm motility, an indicator of fertility. However, the antioxidant capsule had no discernible effect.
One whole tomato contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 12, 22.5
- Carbohydrates: 4.86g
- Fat: 0.25g
- Protein: 1.1g
- Vitamin C: 17.1 mg, or 19% of the daily recommended value
- 296 mg of potassium, or 6% of the daily value
- Vitamin K: 9.88 micrograms, or 8% of the daily value
- Folate: 18.8 micrograms, or 4.7% of the daily value
Tomatoes contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that is essential for skin, bones, and connective tissue. It also facilitates healing and iron absorption.
Potassium is a mineral required for the synthesis of proteins, including muscle, the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates, and the regulation of heart rhythm and pH balance.
Vitamin K is required for blood clotting and also helps older adults maintain strong bones.
Folate aids in the production of DNA, the body’s primary structural component. It also aids in the formation of red blood cells to prevent anemia and collaborates with vitamins B12 and C to aid in the breakdown, utilization, and production of new proteins and tissues.
The nutritional value of tomatoes in other forms, such as juice, sauce, or paste, differs from that of whole, fresh tomatoes. Check food labels for calorie and nutrient information. And read ingredient lists to identify possible additives such as sodium and sugar.
Raw tomatoes, like any other fresh produce, may contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria or Salmonella, resulting in foodborne illness. This is a greater concern for those who are pregnant, over the age of 65, under the age of five, or who have health issues or take medications that reduce the body’s ability to fight off germs and illnesses. This includes individuals afflicted with diabetes, liver or kidney disease, HIV, or cancer. To reduce risk, you can cook your product or, if using raw tomatoes, you can wash them.
In addition, tomatoes may aggravate conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or migraine.
2728 Consult your healthcare provider to determine if avoiding tomatoes is necessary for any reason.
Advice on Consuming
Many of the health benefits of eating tomatoes are attributable to their lycopene content. According to research, field-grown tomatoes contain more lycopene than greenhouse-grown tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes also increases their lycopene content. And consuming them with fat, such as avocado or extra virgin olive oil, increases the absorption of lycopene from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
To reap the full range of health benefits, it is recommended to consume tomatoes in various forms, including raw and cooked, on a regular basis.
Add raw tomatoes to omelets, avocado toast, and salads alike. Enjoy fresh pico de gallo. Fill fresh tomatoes with hummus, olive tapenade, or greens dressed with vinaigrette. Raw tomatoes can be grilled or roasted in the oven, and cooked tomatoes can be consumed in the form of paste, sauce, and salsa, incorporated into various dishes such as soup, pasta, chili, and tacos. Tomato juice can be consumed as is or used as a base for gazpacho.
Tomatoes may provide several potential health benefits, including protection for the brain, heart, and intestines. The vegetable, which is also considered a fruit, is an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant.
There may be some potential drawbacks to consuming them, particularly depending on your health condition, but most people can consume raw and cooked tomatoes as part of a healthy diet. Consult a healthcare provider for advice on whether tomatoes and the nutrients such as lycopene they contain can treat a specific condition.
- Have you heard of any myths about tomatoes and their health effects?
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