Tomato is one of the most versatile fruits. Its fantastic taste has brought about many people incorporating it into their meals daily. However, beyond the tastiness, several nutritional benefits come with the consumption of tomatoes.
These seemingly humble fruits are a major source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to several health benefits. If you have ever thought about neglecting tomatoes, read on to find out why they should be an integral part of your balanced diet instead.
The water content in tomatoes is around 95%. The rest consists of carbohydrates and fiber. Below are the nutrients that you can find in raw tomatoes.
Carbs: Carbohydrates make up about 4% of the tomato in its raw form. Simple sugars such as glucose and fructose make up almost 70% of the fruit’s carb content.
Fiber: Tomato is also rich in fiber. In an average-sized tomato, you’ll get about 1.5 grams of fiber, primarily in its insoluble form.
Vitamins and minerals: Tomatoes also contain several vitamins and minerals. This powerful food will provide you with Vitamin C, Potassium, vitamin K1, and Folate.
Other compounds: In addition to vitamins, other beneficial compounds that you can get from tomatoes include lycopene, beta carotene, naringenin, and chlorogenic acid.
Here are the major health benefits of increased tomato consumption.
Tomato’s vitamin C and lycopene content mean that the fruit can help battle the formation of free radicals that cause cancer. A few observational studies have found links between increased consumption of tomato products and fewer prostate, lung, and stomach cancer cases. In the US, tomato products provide 80 percent of dietary lycopene, making their consumption even more essential.
Another study in Japan also indicated that consuming more beta-carotene may reduce your risk of colon cancer. In addition, the intake of fiber in lettuce is often attributed to reduced risks of colorectal cancer. Further research is, however, required to examine the roles of lycopene and beta carotene in cancer treatment.
Tomatoes may also play a vital role in maintaining optimal skin. Lycopene, which is found in abundance in this fruit, is often used in facial cleansers. Research has shown that lycopene and other plant compounds may protect your skin from sunburn. A study found that people who ingested 40 grams of tomato paste alongside olive oil suffered fewer sunburns.
Also, the vitamin C content in tomatoes serves as antioxidants, preventing damage from sunlight, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C also aids the production of collagen, an essential component of the skin, hair, and nails. Overall, increasing your tomato intake will reduce your risks of wrinkles, sagging skin, and blemishes.
Heart diseases are the world’s most common cause of death. Fiber, potassium, choline, and vitamin C in tomatoes all contribute to improved heart health. A study uncovered that increasing your potassium intake and consuming less sodium can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Another study amongst middle-aged men found a connection between low levels of lycopene and beta carotene and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Folate, one of tomato’s compounds, can also help regulate homocysteine levels in your body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that the body produces during protein breakdown. High levels of this amino acid increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Increased tomato consumption may also support better health in people with diabetes. Several studies have found that people with type 1 diabetes that consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels.
People with type 2 diabetes may also have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends that women consume 25 g of fiber each day while men take in an estimated 38 g daily.
Powerful antioxidants in tomatoes, such as lycopene and beta carotene, can contribute to better sight. Studies show that these antioxidants protect the eyes against light-induced damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Recent research has also indicated that people that consume carotenoids, which are present in tomatoes, are less at risk of neovascular AMD.
Folate is essential for women before and during pregnancy. Research has revealed that this vitamin reduces the chances of neural tube defects in infants. Neural tube defects are congenital disabilities that affect the brain and spines of infants, and they can happen as early as the first month of pregnancy.
Doctors recommend that pregnant women take folic acid, synthetic folate, during pregnancy. Since tomatoes are rich in naturally-occurring folate, women can increase their tomato intake during pregnancy to harness its high folate content. Women who may become pregnant soon can also do the same.
Tomatoes may look small, but their health benefits are numerous and undeniable. There are several ways to integrate tomatoes into your diet, including fresh, dried, sauce, or even as paste. The endless options mean that you can enjoy tomatoes throughout the year.