Whether you choose pear or round tomato, grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, you have to admit that it is difficult to imagine your favorite hamburger, salad or sauce without the tasty tomatoes. This fruit (although we consider it a vegetable) of the Solanaceae family is incredibly rich in nutrients but low in calories. Here is a look at tomato nutrition.
1 cup (180 g) of chopped tomatoes has:
- 32 calories
- 8% fiber
- 29% vitamin A
- 6% vitamin B3
- 5% vitamin B6
- 7% folate (vitamin B9)
- 41% vitamin C
- 6% vitamin E
- 12-16% of vitamin K (for men and women, respectively)
- 12% potassium vs. insignificant sodium
- 6% phosphorus
- 4% magnesium
- 1% calcium
- Antioxidants such as lycopene (which makes tomatoes red), lutein and zeaxanthin, alpha and beta carotene, naringenin and quercetin.
Now let’s take a look at the many ways that tomatoes can benefit your health.
1. Decrease Your Risk of Stroke:
Did you know that ordinary tomato could reduce your risk of stroke? According to the research, people with higher amounts of lycopene in the blood have a 55% lower risk of suffering a stroke. The risk was even lower (59%) for ischemic stroke or stroke caused due to blood clots, which is the most common cause. Experts suggest that this may be because, in addition to its ability to protect against damage caused by free radicals, lycopene can also lower cholesterol and stop the formation of blood clots. In addition, tomatoes already have the heart-healthy characteristic of much more potassium than sodium.
2. Reduce LDL and Increase HDL Cholesterol:
Tomatoes can help you if you are worried about your high levels of LDL cholesterol. LDLs oxidize and cause inflammation within the arteries, which leads to atherosclerosis, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease. Tomatoes, and even tomato products, reduce cholesterol levels with their antioxidant carotenoids such as lycopene, beta-carotene and gamma-carotene. One study found that a high dietary intake of tomato products (400 ml of tomato juice and 30 mg of tomato ketchup per day) for 3 weeks significantly reduced levels of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in healthy people. In addition, the ability of circulating LDLs to resist oxidation increased by 13%.
“But drinking raw tomatoes has also been shown to help overweight women raise their levels of good HDL cholesterol”.
They ate 2 Roma tomatoes every day for a month and increased their HDL by an average of 5 mg / dL. If your cholesterol levels are slightly high, instead of taking statins, try taking more than 25 mg of lycopene a day. Only 1/2 cup of canned tomato puree has 27 mg of lycopene, while 1/2 cup of canned juice has 22 mg. Raw tomato, however, has much less.
3. Improve Insulin Resistance:
If you have insulin resistance, your body does not respond adequately to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Over a period of time, this can lead to diabetes. However, tomatoes can improve insulin resistance. According to one study, people who drank tomato juice four times a week for two months showed an improvement in insulin resistance. It was observed that their LDL cholesterol levels also decreased during this period.
4. Reduce Blood Pressure:
If your systolic blood pressure (the first figure in the reading) tends to the higher side, for example, an initial systolic blood pressure of more than 120 mmHg, add more tomatoes to your vegetarian salad or drink tomato juice – try taking more of 12 mg of lycopene. A look at several studies on lycopene and blood pressure reveals that tomatoes can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure by an average of 5.6 mmHg, sometimes in a few weeks, but have no significant effect on diastolic pressure. They do this by improving endothelial function, which means that the endothelium (the inner lining of blood vessels) can now narrow or dilate blood vessels efficiently to modulate blood pressure. Even if you are overweight or obese, a regular diet of tomatoes (or watermelons) will prevent your blood pressure from rising. Tomatoes also contain a significant amount of potassium and vitamin C, which are important for the regulation of blood pressure.
5. Improve Your Eyesight:
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A. It is known that this fat-soluble vitamin improves vision, particularly in low light. Therefore, tomatoes can prevent night blindness and even help decrease the chances of macular degeneration, a condition that causes vision loss.
6. Help with Asthma:
Asthma is a chronic condition in which the airways, which carry air to and from the lungs, become painful and inflamed. Including tomatoes in your diet can be useful if you suffer from this condition. According to one study, when people with asthma included tomato extract and tomato juice in their diet, they obtained a better score in asthma control (which indicates if their asthma is under control). It was observed that the diet enriched with tomato reduced the presence of white blood cells (neutrophils) that lead to inflammation of the respiratory tract. The researchers suggested that the antioxidant lycopene was responsible for this effect. But do not discard vitamin C.
7. Protect Yourself Against Depression:
Taking tomatoes as part of your regular diet can reduce the risk of depression. A Japanese study that looked at depression among the elderly found that a tomato-rich diet was beneficial in preventing depression symptoms. As the most potent antioxidant in the carotenoid group, lycopene can play a role here – depression is often the result of excessive damage caused by free radicals and lycopene can keep damage under control. Add to that the main free radical fighters such as vitamin C and E. Tomatoes also increase the natural levels of antioxidants in the body. Can tomatoes improve your mood when you feel depressed? Probably, yes, because they contain tryptophan, the building block of serotonin, the happiness hormone. For best results, combine a carbohydrate, a healthy omega-3 fat and tomatoes. So, to translate this into a recipe, add a generous portion of tomato sauce and a dash of olive oil in your whole grain pasta. Carbohydrates also release sugar, which increases serotonin. This is, of course, a temporary solution. For a long-term solution for depression, include these foods that decrease stress in your diet.
8. Protect Yourself Against Cancer:
Several studies have found that eating tomatoes and tomato products can reduce your risk of cancer. Although the benefit seems stronger for lung, stomach and prostate cancers, tomatoes also reduce the risk of breast cancer, pancreas, esophagus, colon and rectum, oral cavity and cervix. A UK study finds that men who consume 10 servings of tomatoes each week can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by 18%. It is believed that numerous beneficial components, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, present in tomatoes, contribute together to their anti-cancer properties.
9. Increase Your Bone Health:
Tomatoes contain calcium and vitamin K, which are important for strengthening bones. Lycopene can also help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that makes your bones weaker and more fragile, and reduces the risk of fractures.
10. Give Your Fetus Nutrition:
If you are worried about being asked to stop taking tomatoes during pregnancy because they are acidic, rest easy. If you are not going through an acid reflux phase, the benefits of tomatoes outweigh the risks. But, of course, moderation is imperative. Tomatoes contain some folate (4.5% of the daily value for pregnant women) in addition to vitamins A and C. Folate is an extremely important vitamin for the development of the neural tube of the fetus, and the lack of it can cause defects of Birth as spina bifida. But since tomatoes alone cannot meet your highest daily folate requirement (600 mcg), eat a salad with steamed asparagus, fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic and olive oil. Or cover your bread enriched with folic acid with slices of fresh tomatoes. Since your body is subject to increased oxidative stress during pregnancy, you need natural antioxidants from foods, such as lycopene. Keep in mind that lycopene supplements have been linked to low birth weight, so your best option is to get it from tomatoes, watermelon and grapefruit.
11. Help in Weight Loss:
There is a reason why tomatoes appear in weight loss diets – they have 95% water, only 32 calories in 1 cup, 2.2 g of fiber, zero fat and cholesterol, and 4.73 g of sugar that converts to glucose slowly. In addition, tomatoes really help reduce body weight, total fat, abdominal fat and BMI. This happened when in one study, healthy women of normal weight drank 280 ml of tomato juice (32.5 mg of lycopene) every day for 8 weeks. They did not have to change their diet or exercise routine. How did this happen? Lycopene in tomatoes increased adiponectin by 27% – this hormone increases metabolism, counteracts inflammation and makes the body sensitive to insulin – and reduced an inflammation-inducing protein called MCP-1 by 23%. The esculeósido A in the tomatoes can increase the energetic metabolism, helping him to burn calories in rest. In addition, tomatoes influence the factors that contribute to obesity: they lower bad cholesterol, insulin resistance and inflammation in the body and increase metabolism, even if you have a high-fat diet.
12. Protect Yourself From Sunburn and Tone the Skin:
Not all sunscreens need to be applied to your body; some eat better. Tomatoes, thanks again to lycopene, can offer protection against skin damage caused by exposure to harmful sun rays. One study found that people who consumed tomato paste with olive oil for a period of 10 weeks experienced 40% less skin redness when exposed to UV radiation compared to the control group that only had olive. In addition, tomatoes reduce damage to DNA in the skin. This can reduce wrinkles and other signs of skin aging. However, because tomatoes have a sun protection factor of only 1.3, you will still need to apply sun blockers or creams generously on your skin before going out. Tomatoes also work as a great skin tonic. Apply tomato slices or tomato puree on the face and leave on for about 15 minutes to take advantage of its astringent properties.
13. Counteract the Harmful Effects of Cigarettes:
Can cigarettes be healthy? No, but less toxic. A study by Cornell University found that cigarette filters with lycopene and grape seed extract (treated with activated carbon) can filter 90% of free radicals in the gas phase of cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, these natural antioxidants lost their power when they were stored. So, for now, you would have to rely on the lycopene from tomatoes to block free radicals generated by tobacco. In a study with mice, tomato juice completely prevented emphysema, a lung disorder in which air sacs become inflamed, caused by tobacco smoke. The researchers credited not only lycopene but also other healthy compounds in tomatoes. Therefore, it might seem that heavy smokers should consume tomatoes by the bushel to counteract the harmful effects of cigarettes. In contrast, heavy smokers who eat a lot of beta-carotene have a higher risk of lung cancer. This is because the chemicals in tobacco react with beta-carotene to produce other chemicals that cause cancer. If you are a heavy smoker, keep your beta-carotene levels low, or better yet, stop smoking all together.
Dare to Eat Tomatoes:
Tomatoes are very versatile. You can crush them in sauces, add them to salads, take out the seeds and fill them, and incorporate them into many stews and soups. But there is something you should keep in mind: cooking tomatoes increases your lycopene level even if you lose some vitamin C in the process. Also, having tomatoes with a little fat will improve your body’s ability to absorb lycopene.
When Should I Not Eat Tomatoes?
GERD: Tomatoes may not be a good idea for you if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes heartburn, as they are acidic.
Gout: It has also been discovered that they trigger attacks in people with gout.
Heart disease: If you are taking beta blockers, be careful with potassium-rich foods such as tomatoes, which are otherwise healthy. You don’t have to stop eating them, but reduce the amount.