On This Page
What are Tomatoes?
Tomatoes, while often categorized as a vegetable, are actually a fruit from the nightshade family. Originating from South America, they are now a staple ingredient in kitchens around the world. They can be consumed raw, cooked, or as a juice and come in a variety of types, including beefsteak, cherry, and heirloom. Aside from their delicious taste and versatility, tomatoes offer a wealth of health benefits.
The Nutritional Profile of Tomatoes
A medium-sized raw tomato (approximately 123g) contains:
- 22 kcal / 92 kJ
- 1.1g protein
- 0.2g fat
- 4.7g carbohydrates
- 1.5g fiber
- 12mg calcium
- 14mg magnesium
- 0.66mg vitamin E
- 15mcg folate
- 1025 IU vitamin A
- 17.2mg vitamin C
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, tomatoes are a powerhouse of essential nutrients and antioxidants, including a significant amount of vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene, which are both key to its many health benefits.
Top 6 Health Benefits of Tomatoes
1. Promote Heart Health
With heart disease being a leading cause of death, anything that can be consumed to help reduce the risk is a welcome addition to our diets. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, potassium, vitamin C, and folate, all of which are beneficial to heart health. Studies have suggested that the lycopene in tomatoes could protect the heart against diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
2. Support Digestive Health
The fiber content in tomatoes can aid in supporting a healthy digestive system. Fiber can significantly help regulate your bowel movements and lessen your chance of constipation. Hence, including tomatoes in your meals is a tasty way to keep your digestive system running smoothly.
3. Boost Immune Health
Packed with vitamin C, tomatoes provide an immunity boost. This nutrient is an antioxidant that can help combat free radicals, molecules that can generally damage your body’s cells. Regular consumption of vitamin C can particularly help tremendously to encourage your immune system and enable disease resistance.
4. Maintain Eye Health
The vitamin A present in tomatoes is fantastic for improving your vision. In addition, vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that can be significantly made from an excess of beta-carotene in your body. A diet rich in tomatoes could help prevent night blindness caused by a deficiency of eye-nourishing nutrients.
5. Aid in Skin Health
The vitamin C in tomatoes helps in keeping your skin healthy by building collagen, an actual constituent of the skin, hair, and nails, as well as connective tissue. In addition, lycopene in tomatoes can help protect the skin against UV rays, acting as a sort of natural sunscreen.
6. Assist in Cancer Prevention
Though more research is needed, some studies suggest that the high levels of lycopene in tomatoes could help prevent certain types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer. The antioxidant properties of lycopene may be responsible for this potential cancer-fighting capacity.
Are Tomatoes Safe for Everyone?
While tomatoes offer numerous health benefits, they may not be suitable for everyone. Some individuals might have a tomato allergy, causing a range of symptoms from skin rashes to anaphylaxis. Others might experience discomfort or adverse effects due to the high acid content in tomatoes, such as those with acid reflux or certain gastrointestinal conditions.
Tomatoes are more than just a versatile and tasty ingredient. They offer a significant amount of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that can support heart health, digestion, immune function, and more. So the next time you’re preparing a meal, remember the many benefits that tomatoes can bring to your plate!
Further Reading: 6 Reasons Why You Should Eat Tomatoes Every Day