Health Properties of Tomatoes
Here are 10 reasons you should be eating more delicious, nutritious tomatoes.
I live in California, where we seem to eat a lot of sandwiches, salads, and
Mexican food. And my favorite cuisine to cook is Italian. In my house, if we
aren't enjoying tomatoes on our sandwiches or in our salads or salsa, we're
saucing up dinner with some marinara. And those high-flavor, garden-fresh grape
and cherry tomatoes? We eat them plain, like cherries.
Eating lots of tomatoes, any way you can, is a great thing. This fruit that
acts like a vegetable is loaded with health properties.
Here are 10 reasons why you should have tomatoes in your kitchen and
- Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene,
lutein, and lycopene. These carotenoids may have individual benefits, but also
have synergy as a group (that is, they interact to provide health
- In particular, tomatoes contain awesome amounts of lycopene,thought to have
the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids.
- Tomatoes and broccoli have synergy that may help reduce the risk of
prostate cancer.One study showed that prostate tumors grew much more slowly in
rats that were fed both tomato and broccoli powder than in rats given lycopene
as a supplement or fed just the broccoli or tomato powder alone.
- A diet rich in tomato-based products may help reduce the risk of pancreatic
cancer, according to a study from The University of Montreal. The researchers
found that lycopene (provided mainly by tomatoes) was linked to a 31% reduction
in pancreatic cancer risk between men with the highest and lowest intakes of
- Tomatoes contain all three high-powered antioxidants:beta-carotene (which
has vitamin A activity in the body), vitamin E, and vitamin C. A U.S.
Department of Agriculture report, What We Eat in America, noted that a
third or us get too little vitamin C and almost half get too little vitamin
- Tomatoes are rich in potassium, a mineral most of us don't get enough of. A
cup of tomato juice contains 534 milligrams of potassium, and 1/2 cup of tomato
sauce has 454 milligrams.
- When tomatoes are eaten along with healthier fats, like avocado or olive
oil, the body's absorption of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes can
increase by two to 15 times, according to a study from Ohio State
- Tomatoes are a big part of the famously healthy Mediterraneandiet. Many
Mediterranean dishes and recipes call for tomatoes or tomato paste or sauce.
Some recent studies, including one from The University of Athens Medical
School, have found that people who most closely follow the Mediterranean diet
have lower death rates from heart disease and cancer. Researchers from the
Harvard School of Public Health, who followed more than 39,000 women for seven
years, found that consumption of oil- and tomato-based products -- particularly
tomato and pizza sauce -- was associated with cardiovascular benefits.
- When breastfeeding moms eat tomato products, it increases the concentration
of lycopenein their breast milk. In this case, cooked is best. The researchers
also found that eating tomato products like tomato sauce increased
concentrations of lycopene in breast milk more than eating fresh tomatoes
- Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in
tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much
greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste
without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin
also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that
includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health
propertiesof tomatoes, don't peel them if you can help it!