Tomatoes! They’re sweet, juicy, and delicious. Everyone knows they are good for you, right? Uh, yeah, sure. Does everyone know specifically why tomatoes are a healthful food? Ummm… They have vitamin C? They’re low in calories? They’re fat-free? Yes, yes, and yes, but that’s not all!
Let’s look at what makes the tomato an excellent healthy choice.
One serving of red, ripe, raw tomatoes (one cup or 150 grams) is a good source of Vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. Tomatoes are naturally low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. Tomatoes also provide thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, all of which are necessary for good health.
On top of that, one serving of tomatoes gives you 2 grams of fiber, which is 7% of the daily recommended amount. Tomatoes also have a relatively high water content, which makes them a filling food. In general eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, confers protection against high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, and heart disease.
Tomatoes make your skin look great. Beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, helps protect skin against sun damage. Tomatoes’ lycopene also makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles.
Tomatoes build strong bones.The vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes are both very good for strengthening and repairing bones. Lycopene also has been shown to improve bone mass, which is a great way to fight osteoporosis.
Tomatoes are a natural cancer fighter. Lycopene (again!) can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal, prostate and ovarian cancer. Tomatoes’ antioxidants (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage.
Tomatoes can improve your vision. The vitamin A that tomatoes provide can improve vision and help prevent night blindness. Recent research shows that consuming tomatoes may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious and irreversible eye condition.
Tomatoes will even make your hair look better.The vitamin A found in tomatoes works to make hair strong and shiny. (Sorry, tomatoes cannot help much with thinning hair—but they will make the hair you have look better!)
Prevent Kidney Stones and Gallstones
Tomatoes can help prevent kidney stones and gallstones. Some studies suggest that kidney and gall stones are less likely to form in people who eat tomatoes without the seeds.
Tomatoes can reduce chronic pain. If you are one of the millions of people who deal with mild to moderate chronic pain (such as from arthritis or back pain), tomatoes may be a pain-buster. Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are known anti-inflammatory agents.
Chronic pain often involves chronic inflammation, so attacking the inflammation is a good way to fight the chronic pain. (Many commercial drugs that fight pain are actually anti-inflammatory drugs.)
Tomatoes can help you lose weight. If you are on a sensible diet and exercise plan, build lots of tomatoes into your everyday eating. They make a great snack and can be used to “bulk up” salads, casseroles, sandwiches and other meals. Because tomatoes contain lots of water and fiber, they are what Weight Watchers calls a “filling food,” one of those foods that fills you up fast without adding a lot of calories or fat.
Do you eat tomatoes on a regular basis? What is your favorite way to serve it? Let us know in the comments below.