Health Benefits Of Tomatoes
The tomato is the edible, often red, berry of the plant Solanum Lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. The species originated in western South America and Central America. The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato is derived.
Tomatoes are consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks. While tomatoes are botanically berry-type fruits, they are considered culinary vegetables, ingredients of savory meals. They keep a central place inEast Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines (notably Chinese, Korean, and Thai cuisine). They are acidic, and their acidity is partially due to their volatile component (e.g., thymol). The fruit was spread across the world during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and became naturalized in various places; it subsequently grew in popularity worldwide during the 19th century following numerous improvements in cultivation techniques.
Tomato plants typically grow to 1–3 meters (3–10 ft). Although it is usually red when mature, tomatoes can also come in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, green, and purple. Many subspecies of tomatoes exist with different shapes and flavors.
The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates and fiber.
Here are the nutrients in a small (100-gram) raw tomato
- Calories: 18
- Water: 95%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
Carbs comprise 4% of raw tomatoes, which amounts to fewer than 5 grams of carbs for a medium specimen (123 grams). Simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, make up almost 70% of the carb content.
Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, providing about 1.5 grams per average-sized tomato. Most of the fibers (87%) in tomatoes are insoluble, in the form of hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.
Vitamins and minerals
Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C. This vitamin is an essential nutrient and antioxidant. One medium-sized tomato can provide about 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
- Potassium. An essential mineral, potassium is beneficial for blood pressure control and heart disease prevention.
- Vitamin K1. Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and bone health Folate (vitamin B9). One of the B vitamins, folate, is essential for average tissue growth and cell function. It’s necessary for pregnant women.
The main plant compounds in tomatoes are:
- Lycopene. A red pigment and antioxidant, lycopene has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.
- Beta carotene. An antioxidant that often gives foods a yellow or orange hue, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body.
- Naringenin. Usually found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has decreased inflammation and protected against various diseases in mice.
- Chlorogenic acid. A powerful antioxidant compound, chlorogenic acid, may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.
Chlorophylls and carotenoids like lycopene are responsible for the rich color of tomatoes. When the ripening process starts, the chlorophyll (green) is degraded, and carotenoids (red) are synthesized.
The most abundant carotenoid in ripened tomatoes — is particularly noteworthy for the fruit’s plant compounds. It’s found in the highest concentrations in the skin. Generally, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.
Tomato products such as ketchup, tomato juice, tomato paste, and tomato sauces — are the richest dietary sources of lycopene in the Western diet, providing over 80% of dietary lycopene in the United States. Gram for gram, lycopene in processed tomato products is often much higher than in fresh tomatoes.
For example, ketchup boasts 10–14 mg of lycopene per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), while one small, fresh tomato (100 grams) holds only 1–8 mg. However, remember that ketchup is often consumed in minimal amounts. Thus, it may be easier to bump up your lycopene intake by eating unprocessed tomatoes with far less sugar than ketchup.
Other foods in your diet may have a substantial effect on lycopene absorption. Consuming this plant compound with a source of fat can increase absorption by up to four times. However, not everyone absorbs lycopene at the same rate. Even though processed tomato products are higher in lycopene consuming fresh, whole tomatoes are still recommended.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may lower the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. These deep red fruits are a great source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K and magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. They also provide fiber, folate, and thiamin. Tomatoes are low in calories and contain various phytochemicals, including carotenoids and flavonoids. They are high in water content, making them beneficial for weight loss. Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked.
Here’s a look at some of their possible health benefits.
- It May help prevent heart disease
Tomatoes get their red color from an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene appears to help lower the risk of atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits inside arteries). It may also help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in people who are overweight or obese.
- It May reduce the risk of certain cancers
Some studies have found that lycopene may reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. This is likely because lycopene helps fight free radical damage and inflammation, which are both factors that contribute to cancer development. Tomatoes are rich sources of the phytonutrients quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin, all of which have anti-cancer effects.
- It May decrease blood pressure
High blood pressure can significantly increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. Tomatoes are a good source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure by countering the effects of sodium
- Weight Loss
Tomatoes contain high amounts of vitamin C and chromium, which help maintain blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for people with diabetes. Tomatoes can be included in the diet of diabetics to prevent the occurrence of low blood sugar levels.
- Tomato Extract Could Be Useful in Treating Infertility
Tomato could help treat infertility and menopause symptoms. This is according to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. In the study, scientists gave mice tomato extract daily for four weeks. They then examined their ovaries. The researchers found that the ovaries had less follicle loss, linked to infertility and menopause.
This is because the tomato extract helped reduce oxidative stress, which means there was minor damage to the cells in the ovaries. This study joins others who have found tomatoes beneficial for fertility and menopause. For example, they may improve egg health and hormone levels during menopause.
- Stress Relief
Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium and the antioxidant lycopene, which are linked to stress relief. Lycopene is what gives tomatoes their red hue. This nutrient is found in many foods that are red in colors, such as watermelons and pink grapefruits.
- Improves skin health
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects skin cells from sun damage. They can also help to prevent the formation of wrinkles and age spots.
Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants that can help reduce the effects of sun damage on your skin. Therefore, tomatoes can be added to your diet or used in face masks to improve your skin condition.
- Aids Digestion
Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, which helps keep the digestive system moving smoothly. They also contain a choline compound important for learning, memory, and muscle control. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidant vitamin C and other micronutrients that help in digestion by helping to produce digestive enzymes.
- Controls Diabetes
Tomatoes are natural anti-diabetes food. People with diabetes often have high levels of oxidative stress, leading to nerve damage. Animal studies show that the antioxidant lycopene can help prevent or slow this damage. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene. In addition, other antioxidants in tomatoes may reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.
For example, laboratory studies suggest that an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. However, there is no evidence that ALA supplements can achieve the same effect in people with diabetes.
- Improves eye health
Vitamin A and lutein protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, respectively. The carotenoids in tomatoes are essential antioxidants that may reduce your risk of eye-related disorders as you age.