As the proportion of plant foods in the diet increases, the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer decreases.
A tomato is a nutrient-dense super food that offers benefit to a range of bodily systems. Its nutritional content supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health.
There are different types and sizes of tomato, and they can be prepared in different ways.
These include cherry tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, raw tomatoes, soups, juices, and purees. The health benefits can vary between types.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. With these components, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are known to cause cancer.
A study linked the intake of high levels of beta-carotene to the prevention of tumor development in prostate cancer. Diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective role against prostate cancer.
Tomatoes also contain lycopene. Lycopene is a polyphenol, or plant compound, that has been linked with one type of prostate cancer prevention. It also gives tomatoes their characteristic red color.
High potassium and low sodium intake are also associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of dying from all causes.
Heart health and blood pressure
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health.
An increase in potassium intake, along with a decrease in sodium intake, is the most important dietary change the average person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tomatoes also contain folate. This helps to balance homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that results from protein breakdown. It is said to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The management of homocysteine levels by folate reduces one of the risk factors for heart disease.
Not only is high potassium intake also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but it is also known for protecting the muscles against deterioration, preserving bone mineral density, and reducing the production of kidney stones.
Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels, while people with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides about 2 grams (g) of fiber.
Eating foods that are high in water content and fiber, such as tomatoes, may help hydration and support normal bowel movements. Tomatoes are often described as a laxative fruit.
Fiber adds bulk to stool and is helpful for reducing constipation.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene. These are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the eyes against light-induced damage, the development of cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Collagen is an essential component of the skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue.
The production of collagen in the body is reliant on vitamin C. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, a low intake is associated with increased damage from sunlight, pollution, and smoke.
This can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, blemishes, and other adverse health effects of the skin.
Adequate folate intake is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is available in supplements but can also be boosted through dietary measures.
While it is recommended that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are a great source of naturally-occurring folate. This applies equally for women who may become pregnant in the near future.
There are easy ways to include the nutritional value of tomatoes in any diet.
Be sure to store fresh tomatoes at room temperature and avoid refrigeration, as this causes tomatoes to lose their flavor.
Incorporate more tomatoes into the diet using the following tips:
- Dip grape or cherry tomatoes in hummus or plain yogurt dip and consume them as a side or a snack.
- Add sliced tomato to sandwiches and wraps.
- Used canned, diced, or stewed tomatoes in soups.
- Eat a piece of toast with avocado and tomato slices.
- Dice fresh tomatoes and add them to rice and beans, quesadillas, or tacos.
- Add them to omelets or scrambles for breakfast.
Remember to wash tomatoes before eating.
Reviewed by: Ugonna Ukoh
Megan Ware RDN LD