Although tomatoes are often considered vegetables, they are actually fruits. They can be prepared in many ways, and are therefore a versatile addition to any diet. Because tomatoes are loaded with nutrients, they provide multiple health benefits.
1. Antioxidants in Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps the body get rid of free radicals. Because free radicals cause cell damage and are implicated in diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes and asthma, regular consumption of tomatoes can help you avoid these diseases. Lycopene has been proven a protective agent against breast, colorectal, pancreatic, lung and endometrial cancers.
Lycopene is what makes the tomato red. The body does not produce lycopene, but it needs it regularly. Because tomatoes contain the highest amounts of lycopene, it is good to include them in your usual diet. In addition, lycopene is classified as a carotenoid. If you want to maximize the health benefits you can gain from tomatoes, try combining them with dishes that include avocados, olive oil or nuts. These ingredients contain dietary fats, and they facilitate the absorption of lycopene, which is a fat-soluble compound.
It has also been proven that a tomato-rich diet is a crucial preventive measure against prostate cancer. Aside from lycopene, tomatoes also contain several phytonutrients that help protect against prostate cancer. Based on existing data, it is now known that consumption of cooked tomatoes provides greater health benefits against prostate cancer. For men, eating tomatoes together with broccoli, or eating tomatoes and drinking green tea regularly, is highly recommended because it may result in an even greater decrease in prostate cancer risk.
2. Tomatoes as Sources of Vitamins and Minerals
Tomatoes contain high amounts of vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin needed for good wound healing, and bone and teeth formation. A medium-sized tomato contains about 23 mg of vitamin C. If you consume a tomato of this size every day, your vitamin C needs are already covered. Additionally, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron. As such, if you are taking an iron supplement (like ferrous sulfate), you can facilitate better absorption by eating tomatoes and taking the iron supplement afterward.
Tomatoes also contain provitamin A, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid) and potassium. Vitamin A promotes good vision and bone and teeth strength, while the B vitamins promote efficient energy utilization. Potassium is a mineral that helps decrease high blood pressure and protects against heart disease.
3. Tomatoes for Weight Management
Tomatoes only contain 21 calories per 100 grams. They are rich in water and fiber. Therefore, you can eat as many tomatoes as you want, without gaining weight. Regular consumption of tomatoes can help maintain normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The high amounts of fiber present in these fruits can also help clean your colon, keep your bowel movements normal and prevent colon cancer. If you want to create a diet that will give you satisfaction and health benefits while keeping you in shape, don’t forget to add tomatoes.