5 Health Benefits Of Tomatoes

5 Health Benefits Of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are highly popular, but it was only 200 years ago that they were thought to be poisonous in the United States. The reason for that is likely because tomatoes belong to the toxic nightshade family. Nowadays, tomatoes are the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions. This article aims to highlight the health benefits of tomatoes, and why you should include more of them in your diet. 

Tomato Nutrition Facts

Tomatoes, although technically a fruit, are considered a vegetable due to their use, taste, and nutrient content. The health benefits and nutritional properties of tomatoes vary between types. For example, cherry tomatoes have more beta-carotene than regular tomatoes. One of the most impressive nutrition facts about tomatoes is that they have a 95% water content, meaning they aid hydration efforts. The following nutritional information is for one small tomato:

  • Calories: 16
  • Fat: 0.2 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 3.5 g
  • Sugars: 2.4 g
  • Sodium: 5 milligrams (mg)
  • Fibrer: 1.1 g
  • Protein: 0.8 g
  • Potassium: 215.7 mg
  • Vitamin C: 12.5 mg
  • Vitamin K: 7.2 mg
  • Vitamin E: 0.5 mg
  • Vitamin A: 38.2 micrograms (mcg)
  • Folate: 13.7 mcg
  • Lycopene: 2341.4 mcg
  • Beta-carotene: 408.6 mcg

Tomatoes Help Protect Heart Health

The consumption of tomatoes has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S. One review of studies found that high lycopene intake, as well as high blood levels of lycopene, reduced heart disease risk by 14%. Another study that involved healthy people looked at the effects of a single dose of raw tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato sauce plus olive oil. All three doses were able to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL cholesterol and anti-inflammatory markers. Tomato sauce plus olive oil had the maximum effect, likely because olive oil aids the absorption of lycopene. 

Tomatoes May Offer Potential Cancer Prevention

By definition, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that spread beyond their normal boundaries. They often invade other parts of the body and cause serious damage. Observational studies note that the consumption of tomatoes, and tomato products, may lead to fewer incidences of lung, stomach, and prostate cancers. One study in women found that high concentrations of carotenoids, which exist naturally in tomatoes, may help protect against breast cancer. Another study linked the high intake of beta-carotene with the prevention of tumor development in prostate cancer. This is why researchers believe that beta-carotene may play a protective role against certain types of cancer. 

Tomatoes May Prevent Constipation

It’s no secret that the inadequate intake of fluid and fiber can lead to constipation. Tomatoes provide body water and fiber, with one tomato providing over four ounces of fluid and over a gram of fiber. According to researchers, the dietary fibers that exist in tomatoes support hydration and healthy bowel movements. Tomatoes are naturally rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. Soluble fiber retains water to create a gel-like texture during digestion, whereas insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool. Cellulose, pectins, and hemicelluloses in tomatoes are fibers resistant to digestion in the large intestine. Together, they help form healthy stool and regular bowel movements.

Tomatoes May Combat Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and other health problems. It is characterized by having a large waistline, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol. According to research, about one in three adults in the U.S. has metabolic syndrome. Studies indicate that lycopene consumption may be able to change some of the components of metabolic syndrome. Tomatoes happen to be great sources of lycopene! A small study monitored participants that drank tomato juice once a day four times a week for two months with no specified amount. Despite the lack of control in this study, the group that drank tomato juice experienced significant decreases in LDL cholesterol and increases in HDL cholesterol. 

Tomatoes May Aid Recovery After Exercise

Exercise can damage proteins in the body. That’s why exercise physiologists encourage people to consume electrolytes and antioxidants to support and accelerate recovery after exercise. Research indicates that the antioxidants in tomatoes may help the body recover. In fact, one study found that taking 3.5 ounces of fresh tomato juice for two months post-exercise improves the recovery of athletes. Another study monitored 15 non-athletes who exercised for 20 minutes on a bicycle after drinking five ounces of tomato juice for five weeks, followed by five weeks without tomato juice, and another five weeks with the juice. At the end of the study, blood samples indicated significantly lower blood markers associated with exercises-triggered damage when tomato juice was consumed.

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