Tomatoes: Nutrition and Health Benefits
Tomatoes are the edible berries of the plant Solanum Lycopersicum. They are particularly high in lycopene, which is a carotenoid found in red and pink fruits, as well as vegetables. Lycopene is greatly beneficial in preventing, treating, and reversing many health issues, such as some cancers (e.g., prostate or breast cancer), asthma, and cardiovascular disease – as it possesses antioxidant properties which scavenge free radicals (1).
Tomatoes contain many essential vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, C and K in high amounts. They are also a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, E and folate, and are high in minerals such as potassium, copper, and manganese. 100g of tomatoes contain 95% water, but only 18kcal. They are also packed with 4% protein and 3% carbohydrates, as well as fibre – and only 1% fat.
Other compounds in tomatoes include:
Beta carotene is also a carotenoid and antioxidant, which is converted into vitamin A in the body and can make your skin orange. This can be reversed by not consuming foods high in carotenoid – but note that people who consume a whole plant foods diet are considered more healthy and more attractive, due to their orange-yellow skin colour (2).
Health benefits of beta carotene: may improve memory and cognitive function, may be beneficial for eye health, may reduce the risk of certain cancers such as pancreatic or lung cancer, and may protect your skin against UV radiation (3).
Naringenin is a flavonoid found in tomato skin. It helps protect against cancer, such as colon cancer. Naringenin promotes carbohydrate metabolism and cardioprotective action, inhibits cancer growth (7), and shows strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity (8).
Tomatoes may protect against heart disease, as they may lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol. With their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, they may decrease inflammation and oxidative stress, and may also protect against some cancers, including stomach cancer. The element lycopene builds up in human skin, where it is found in higher levels and thus, may protect against sunburn (9).
Tomatoes may also help with weight loss, due to their low-caloric density and some of their components, such as chlorogenic. They have a lot of health benefits and play an important role in a balanced diet. They are naturally sweet and help us to stay hydrated, due to their high water content. On top of that, they are the primary source of the phytochemical lycopene, which may help protect our bodies from many health issues.
You can include tomatoes easily in your diet, by adding them to salads, making a tomato sauce to add to your meals, putting them on pizza, or even adding them to your smoothies. There is an abundance of opportunities to consume these healthy berries.
Sonja from SOS Free
Additional remark: tomatoes are nightshades, and may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Please do not continue to consume tomatoes if you get a skin rash, eczema, or hives (urticaria), abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea when eating them.