There are numerous ways to consume tomatoes and potentially get their multiple advantages.
Tomatoes are technically fruits since they meet the botanical definition: they are the fleshy sections of a plant that enclose the seeds. But conversely, tomatoes are regarded as vegetables for nutritional and culinary purposes due to their taste, use in meals and vitamin content.
Tomato Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, 100 grams of ripe red tomatoes contain the following:
- calorie count: 18
- 1 gram of fat
- Cholesterol level: 0 mg
- 5 milligrams sodium
- 3.89 g carbohydrates
- 1.20 gram fiber
- One gram of protein
Tomatoes are low in calories and high in nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium. They’re also high in antioxidants, including lycopene, responsible for tomatoes’ distinctive color and linked to various health advantages, including a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Tomatoes in various forms, including fresh, cooked, and juicy, have been shown in studies to help protect against chronic diseases and support a physically active lifestyle.
May help protect brain health
Alzheimer’s disease affects 10% of persons 65 and older in the United States. The dementia-like condition that affects memory, reasoning, and behavior has no cure and worsens over time.
While more research on the link between tomatoes and Alzheimer’s disease is needed, studies have suggested that antioxidants found in tomatoes, such as lycopene, may protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. For example, one study found that participants aged 70 and up who consumed a lot of lycopene had a slower loss of cognitive function over four years.
More human research, specifically on adults aged 60 to 65, is required to understand better the proper relationship between the potential protective benefits of tomatoes and Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
May help combat metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of diseases that raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other significant health issues. It necessitates the presence of three or more of the following conditions:
- A wide waistline
- Blood pressure that is too high
- High blood sugar levels
- High blood fats or triglycerides
- Low levels of excellent HDL cholesterol
One in every three adults in the United States has metabolic syndrome. According to the researchers, lycopene status, or the amount of lycopene in the blood or ingestion, may be associated with beneficial changes in metabolic syndrome components. Tomatoes are also a good source of lycopene.
In one tiny trial, 15 people drank tomato juice once daily, four times a week, for two months at no set amount. Despite the absence of a standardized portion of the liquid, the group significantly reduced bad LDL cholesterol, increased good HDL cholesterol, and improved fasting insulin levels.
Helps protect heart health
A tomato-rich diet has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, the leading cause of mortality among adults in the United States. According to one evaluation of 25 previously published studies, a high lycopene diet and high blood levels of antioxidants it lowered the risk of heart disease by 14%.
Another study of healthy persons examined the effect of a single serving of raw tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato sauce + olive oil on heart disease risk measures. All three doses decreased blood cholesterol and triglycerides, fat in the blood, while increasing HDL cholesterol and anti-inflammatory levels. The tomato sauce plus olive oil had the most significant benefit, most likely because the olive oil increased lycopene absorption.
May help prevent constipation
A lack of liquids and fiber can cause constipation. Tomatoes contain both nutrients, with one whole tomato containing over four ounces of fluid and 1.5 grams of fiber.
Tomatoes’ high water content and dietary fiber content are believed to promote hydration and healthy bowel motions. Tomatoes are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to feces, while soluble fiber absorbs water to generate a gel-like texture after digestion. Both of these modifications result in waste that is easier to dispose of. In addition, tomato fibers, specifically cellulose, hemicelluloses, and pectins, are resistant to digestion in the large intestine and aid in forming good feces.
May help prevent type 2 diabetes
In the United States, 14.7% of individuals have type 2 diabetes, and 38% have prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are too high but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.15 According to certain studies, lycopene’s antioxidant capabilities aid in preventing type 2 diabetes. This protects cells from harm, reduces inflammation, and strengthens the body’s defense mechanisms. In addition, the fiber in tomatoes can also help protect against diabetes.
May reduce cancer risk
Two antioxidants in tomatoes, lycopene and beta-carotene, have been demonstrated to have anticancer effects. They accomplish this by protecting cells against DNA damage that can lead to cancer formation and forcing cancer cells to die off.
Several studies have found that men who consume more tomatoes, mainly cooked tomatoes, have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. In addition, eating non-starchy vegetables like tomatoes has also been related to a lower incidence of estrogen receptor-negative breast tumors and cancers of the colon, rectum, lung, stomach, and upper aerodigestive tract.
May support exercise recovery
Exercise can cause protein damage in the body. However, studies show that the antioxidants in tomatoes may help mitigate the effects in one trial of athletes, consuming 3.5 ounces of tomato juice for two months after exercise boosted recuperation. In another study, 15 healthy non-athletes rode a bicycle for 20 minutes after drinking 5 ounces of tomato juice for five weeks, followed by five weeks without tomato juice and five weeks with the juice. Blood samples revealed that when tomato juice was drunk, blood markers associated with exercise-induced damage were much lower.
May aid immune function
Tomato juice contains vitamin C and beta-carotene, which may help enhance the immune system. According to one study, tomato juice greatly enhanced numbers of immune cells, particularly natural killer cells, which are known to fight infections.
May support male fertility
One 12-week trial compared the effects of 190 grams (about 7 ounces) of tomato juice per day to an antioxidant capsule or a placebo in male infertility patients. Tomato juice significantly raised blood lycopene levels in men and sperm motility, an indicator of fertility, as compared to the control (placebo) group. However, no significant improvements were seen with the antioxidant capsule.
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