The Versatile Tomato – 6 Health Benefits You Should Know
This bright red food is often mistaken as a vegetable, as it most commonly eaten with savoury items, but it’s actually a fruit. A native to southern and central America, today tomatoes are widely used across the globe. Tomatoes are low-calorie and low-carbohydrate fruits which are one of the tastiest and healthiest. Read on to know about the incredible health benefits of tomatoes!
Tomato is a fruit that is also considered a vegetable due to its low sugar content as compared to other fruits. There is no other fruit as versatile as tomatoes. Scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum, tomatoes today are extensively used in a wide variety of dishes worldwide.
Tomatoes originated in western South America. The Spanish colonization of America and Central America caused tomato cultivation to spread. Europeans used the tomato plants mainly for decoration until they were incorporated into Spanish and Italian cuisines in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today tomatoes are cultivated worldwide and have become a staple for most of us.
Tomato is known as ‘Tamatar‘ in Hindi, ‘Rama Mulaga‘ in Telugu, ‘Thakkali‘ in Tamil and Malayalam, ‘Tameta‘ in Gujarati, ‘Toamaatar‘ in Bengali, and ‘Tamoto‘ in Marathi.
Did You Know?
– India is the second largest producer of tomatoes in the world
– Tomato was initially considered poisonous by the Europeans
– They come in a wide array of colours such as red, pink, white, black, purple, brown, green, and yellow
– Tomatoes are in the top ten fruits and vegetables for containing levels of pesticide residue
Raw tomato juice is considered a superfood thanks to all the vitamins and minerals present in it. Tomato contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K as well as significant amounts of vitamin B6, folate and thiamine. It is also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and copper.
Additionally, it contains dietary fiber, protein and several other antioxidants such as lycopene. The antioxidant properties of lycopene are quite resistant to heat and cooking. Thus, cooking tomatoes can help make lycopene more bioavailable, meaning it can be easily taken up into the body’s cells.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
The health benefits of tomatoes include improved vision, good digestive health and reduced blood pressure. It can help manage diabetes, skin problems, and urinary tract infections. Furthermore, tomatoes can stimulate blood circulation, lower cholesterol levels, improve fluid balance, protect the kidneys, detoxify the body, prevent premature aging and reduce inflammation.
Improves Heart Health
Lycopene is one of the healthiest carotenoids present in foods. Studies have shown that high levels of lycopene in the blood are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. This is mainly due to the antioxidant properties of lycopene that prevent LDL oxidation in the body. LDL oxidation occurs when LDL cholesterol particles react with free radicals generated in the body. Studies show that oxidized LDL particles significantly contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, which can eventually cause heart attacks and stroke.
The particularly high concentration of lycopene along with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E makes tomato an effective cancer-fighting superfood. The antioxidant properties of tomatoes protect against DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Different studies have shown that higher consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products can lower the risk of cancers, especially prostate, lung and stomach cancer.
Restores lung damage
Several studies have shown that tomatoes may restore lung damage caused by smoking. Nitrosamines are one of the carcinogenic compounds present in cigarette smoke. Organic compounds such as coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid present in tomatoes fight against such carcinogenic compounds. Additionally, studies have shown that consuming a tomato-rich diet, containing high levels of lycopene can lower the risk of certain types of cancers, including lung cancer.
Maintains Eye Health
Vitamin A present in tomatoes maintains eye health and prevents eye disorders such as night-blindness. Tomatoes also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help reduce your risk of macular degeneration and cataract later in life. Additionally, lycopene and vitamin C present in tomatoes also help in maintaining your eye health.
Tomatoes have a large amount of fiber, which can bulk the bowels and reduce symptoms of constipation. A healthy amount of fiber helps stimulate peristaltic motion in the smooth digestive muscles and release gastric and digestive juices. This can regulate your bowel movements; thereby improving overall digestive health and preventing conditions like colorectal cancer.
Improves Skin Health
According to several studies, lycopene acts as a natural sunscreen that protects you against UV radiation. Furthermore, tomatoes and its products enable the skin to absorb oxygen and prevent the signs of aging. Additionally, vitamin C present in tomatoes can brighten your skin when applied topically on your skin.
How Can You Include tomatoes in Your Diet?
Tomatoes are mixed with other ingredients to enhance the flavour of the dish. It is widely used in stews, soups, sauces, curries and gravies. Italian cuisine wouldn’t have been the same without the use of tomatoes in their pasta and pizzas!
Tomato juice is gaining immense popularity as a popular health drink. Opt for organic tomato juice as it contains more phenolic compounds than conventionally grown crops. Regular tomatoes, mainly cherry tomatoes are used in preparing salads and sandwiches. Fresh tomatoes can not only be consumed directly but also processed to make tomato juice, tomato paste, ketchup and tomato sauce.
Here are a few ways in which you can use tomatoes:
- Apply ripe tomato pulp on your scalp for 30 minutes before washing to treat dandruff, hair loss and itchy scalp.
- Apply tomato juice on your face to remove dead skin cells and get a glowing and smooth skin.
- Apply a mixture of tomato, oatmeal and yoghurt on your face and neck to exfoliate your skin and clear blemishes.
100g of tomato provides 18 Calories, Carbohydrates – 3.9g (Dietary Fibre – 1.2g, Sugar – 2.6g), Protein – 0.9g, Fat – 0.2 g (saturated fat – 0.03g), Sodium – 5mg,
And a percentage daily value of Vitamin A – 17%, Vitamin C – 23%, Iron – 2%, Calcium – 1%, (based on a 2000 Calorie diet).