The tomato has proven to be one of the most versatile foods in the culinary world. While not many people just eat tomatoes on their own, they are used in a lot of different ways from condiments to toppings to side dishes. There are still many people out there that think that tomatoes are a vegetable because of their taste and appearance, but they certainly are a fruit.
The first thing that probably comes to mind when thinking tomatoes is ketchup, which is the most popular condiment in the United States. However, that’s certainly not the healthiest way to get your tomato intake with the added sugar. What you should actually be doing is eating raw and ripe tomatoes by themselves more often. Though they aren’t as sweet as other fruits, they bring just as many benefits. Let’s take a look at all of the great things that tomatoes can do for your health.
Packed With Nutrients
Tomatoes, being a fruit, naturally come with a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals in each serving. Each medium raw tomato has a little bit of protein, and more than 20 percent of your daily recommendation of both vitamin A and vitamin C. There is also a significant amount of vitamin K, which helps prevent blood clots and osteoporosis. Other vitamins found in tomatoes include vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and riboflavin.
When it comes to minerals, the most abundant to be found in each tomato is potassium, with eight percent of your daily recommended value. Manganese doesn’t follow too far behind with seven percent. Minerals that aren’t as significant, but still found in tomatoes, include iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. It’s a well rounded fruit, and doesn’t carry much sugar.
Not only will that one medium sized tomato get you all of those great nutrients, it will do that without packing on the pounds. That’s because that one tomato will only have about 20 to 25 calories. If you have ever held a regular sized tomato in your hands, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that it would be so calorie dense since they are much larger than other fruits.
Eating plain tomatoes is a great way to lose weight, and it’s not only because of the lack of calories. There is also the fiber content that will help you feel more full, and improve your digestive health that boosts your metabolism. While people might look at you strangely when you’re eating a tomato like you would an apple, just remind them that it can help speed up weight loss.
One thing that you might have heard about tomatoes is that they contain lycopene, which is a red carotene that is only found in certain foods. Tomatoes have been shown to be the biggest source, and there is some early evidence that lycopene can help in the fight against cancer. Research has been done on the effect of lycopene when it comes to reducing prostate, colorectal and stomach cancers, with some promising results so far.
The reason behind lycopene being a potential cancer fighter is because it is an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals that promote cancer cell growth. While it hasn’t been completely proven that lycopene can help prevent cancer, there is some room for optimism. All of the other vitamins found in tomatoes will also help boost your immune system against other diseases.
Tomatoes happen to be one of the best foods that you can eat to boost your skin health. Studies have shown that eating tomatoes lead to a reduction in sunburns, thanks to the vitamins and lycopene found inside. Not only will your skin be looking better and less damaged, but tomatoes can also benefit your hair and teeth. The vitamin A content helps boost the appearance and strength of all of those aspects.
Finally, that vitamin A will also help your eyes. Studies have shown that people that eat more vitamin A rich foods are less likely to lose their vision later in life, and have a lower chance of having night blindness. So overall, tomatoes don’t just help on the inside.
Tomatoes have a fair amount of potassium, which has been shown to help reduce the blood pressure levels in patients that needed it to be lower. Lycopene and beta-carotene also help your heart by lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Since tomatoes also contain other antioxidants that cause heart disease, you automatically lower your chances of heart disease with each tomato.
People have been shown to have fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes and more normal levels of blood pressure and LDL when eating tomatoes. Lycopene is that amazing word that keeps popping up when it comes to tomatoes. While we need more studies to show the exact reduction in heart disease chances, we can see that there is a benefit.
If you are having problems with your digestive or urinary tracts, you should certainly be eating more tomatoes. Tomatoes can prevent several problems that occur in these systems, acting as an antioxidant packed with fiber that can alleviate constipation, indigestion or diarrhea. Your digestive system will certainly see a boost thanks to the fiber found in tomatoes.
Tomatoes will help you reduce your chances of urinary tract infections, acting as a diuretic due to water content. Many kidney stones and UTIs are a result of a buildup of toxins, which can be flushed out by eating more tomatoes. There has even been some evidence that tomatoes can help you prevent gallstones and even bladder cancer.
Summing it Up
After seeing all of the great benefits that you can get from eating tomatoes, it might make you stop eating ketchup and start eating more raw tomatoes. It’s a great way to get many beneficial vitamins and nutrients, while helping you keep diseases at bay. As always, we want to ask, are there any side effects of eating tomatoes? There are some, but they are very minor and rare.
Some people might actually be intolerant to tomatoes, which can lead to digestive discomfort, but this is not common at all. Tomatoes might also increase the stomach acid content in some people, leading to acid reflux problems, so make sure to speak with your doctor if you have acid reflux.
The one thing you need to look out for is the difference between raw and canned tomatoes. Raw will have almost no sodium, which is going to be beneficial. Canned, however, will have much more. As long as you are eating raw (and organic if you can help it) tomatoes, you are going to see a big improvement in your overall health.