The Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Fruit? Vegetable? Whether you think they’re either of those choices, one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that the tomato is a nutrient-dense, superfood. In this post, we take a closer look at this superfood and share just a few of the many health benefits of tomatoes.
- Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
- Lycopene has also been linked with cancer prevention.
- According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, beta-carotene also found in abundance in tomatoes, plays a protective role against cancer.
2 Healthy Heart
- The fibre, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health.
- Tomatoes also contain folic acid, which helps to keep homocysteine levels in check, thereby reducing a risk factor for heart disease.
- Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
- Tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.
3 Support Digestion and Prevent Constipation
- Eating foods that are high in water content and fibre like tomatoes can help with hydration and promote regular bowel movements.
- Fibre adds bulk to stool and is essential for minimising constipation and preventing diarrhea.
- It also prevents jaundice and effectively removes toxins from the body.
4 Better Vision
- Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the eyes against light-induced damage associated with the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Vitamin A, is also present in tomatoes and aids in improving vision, as well as in preventing night-blindness and macular degeneration.
5 Youthful Skin
- The synthesis of collagen, an essential component of the skin, hair, nails and connective tissue, is reliant on vitamin C which is abundant in tomatoes. A deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, a low intake is associated with increased damage from sunlight, pollution and smoke, leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, blemishes and other adverse health effects.
- Topical application of tomato juice is even known to cure severe sunburns.
- Tomatoes rank high in the preparation of anti-aging products.
How to Select, Store and Enjoy
- Choose tomatoes that have rich colors – deep reds are a great choice, but so are vibrant oranges/tangerines, brilliant yellows, and rich purples. Tomatoes of all colors provide outstanding nutrient benefits.
- Tomatoes should be well shaped and smooth-skinned with no wrinkles, cracks, bruises, or soft spots – they should not have a puffy appearance since that characteristic is often associated with inferior flavor and may also result in excess waste during preparation. Ripe tomatoes will yield to slight pressure and will have a noticeably sweet fragrance.
- Sniff all tomatoes if you can – if they’re missing that sweet, woody smell, leave them behind.
- Keep tomatoes at room temperature on a plate; never store them in a plastic bag. If you want to speed the ripening process, put the tomatoes in a pierced paper bag with an apple, which emits ethylene gas, a ripening agent. Once ripe, tomatoes can last two to three days.
- It’s a very versatile superfood – tomatoes can be grilled, roasted, or sautéed. Or make a juicy sandwich. You could also enjoy them fresh in a salad, as a sauce, or even baked.