The red of tomatoes is what makes them full of health benefits, even when you are enjoying them as a refreshing juice or tomato sauce. Tomatoes are fat burning, help prevent cancer and are a very heart-healthy food. For sure they are a healthy superfood.
“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.” Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking
6 Tomatoes Health Benefits
What scientists have found is that their high quantity of lycopene, the phytochemical that creates tomatoes’ ruby red complexion is what makes them very health benefiting. The lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits free radicals, which are a destructive substance in the body. It binds to free radicals, keeping them from creating cell damage that can result in diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
1. Helps Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
The highest average intake of lycopene was linked to almost a 30 percent reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
“We’ve shown quite clearly that lycopene improves the function of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease patients. It reinforces the need for a healthy diet in people at risk from heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Joseph Cheriyan from the University of Cambridge.
Lycopene concentrations in the blood have been found to be protective in the early stages of the narrowing of the arteries. When your arteries are narrowed, blood flow to the heart slows down. The research found that people with high levels of lycopene in their blood have lower rates of heart disease.
A diet rich in tomatoes was found to increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels by 15.2 percent. A diet high in tomato products reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by 13 percent in one Finnish study. In one study observing people with an average age of 54 years from 10 European countries, lycopene may be at the root of the cardio-protective power of a diet rich in vegetables. Tomatoes are high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
2. Lowers Risk of Cancer
Tomatoes are rich in beta-carotene and lycopene, help lower some types of cancer and slow down the rate of other types of cancer.
Tomatoes reduce breast cancer due to high amounts of carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and total carotenoids), according to research from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Tomatoes may help prevent prostate cancer. This study found that men who ate more than 10 portions of tomatoes or tomato products per week have an 18 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to men who ate less than ten.
Consuming tomatoes and tomato-based products have been shown to lower the risk of a variety of cancers. The cancers that lowered the most were lung, stomach and prostate cancer. Research also indicated that tomatoes may help prevent cancers of the breast, cervix, oral cavity, colorectum, esophagus and pancreas. “It is critical to recognize that the current evidence regarding dietary intake and lycopene blood concentrations reflects consumption of tomatoes and tomato products rather than purified lycopene supplements,” notes the Oxford Journals.
3. Increases Bone Health
Tomatoes help keep bones healthy by enhancing the ratio of calcium in the body. Subjects with higher lycopene intake had a lower risk of hip fracture.”
4. Supports Healthy Skin and Hair
Tomato components help fight acne and prevent damage to skin cells.
“The protective effect of eating tomatoes on our mitochondria is important as they are the energy producers in all our body cells including skin. Therefore being kind to our mitochondria is likely to contribute to improved skin health, which in turn may have an anti-aging effect,” says Professor Mark Birch-Machin, dermatology scientist at Newcastle University.
Drinking tomato juice rich in vitamin K strengthens the hair and promotes hair growth.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Tomato juice reduces inflammation in overweight women and obese females.
6. Increase Fat Burning
Tomatoes help produce the amino acid carnitine, which helps speed the body’s fat-burning capacity by more than 30 percent.
Tomato juice has been found to reduce weight, body fat and size of the waist.
Cherry tomatoes are among the “Dirty Dozen“ fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues. Tomatoes are from the nightshade family, which includes bell peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. For those who are sensitive to nightshades, they could trigger inflammation in the body and contribute to arthritis. Grapefruit and watermelon are good sources of lycopene that are not nightshades. There are no scientific studies to confirm this, but many health professionals have made the observation that some are sensitive to nightshade produce. It has been suggested that this sensitivity to nightshades is a unique sensitivity to solanine, or, in the case of tomatoes, the alkaloid tomatine.
Learn How to Get the Most From Eating Tomatoes
Here are some delicious tomato recipes to get all those health benefits they are full of. Tomatoes reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, help us burn fat, and help our skin and hair to glow beautifully.
Did you know you will get more from tomatoes when you cook them?
You can learn how to buy, prepare and cook them properly. Let’s take advantage of them when they are in season and get them into our diet today!
Which Tomatoes to Buy To Get the Health Benefits?
Red, orange or yellow tomatoes? The lycopene in yellow and orange tomatoes is absorbed more fully than the lycopene from red tomatoes. Buy more of the orange and yellow and have some of the red tomatoes too. It will make a beautiful salad.
We want to get the most nutrition from the tomatoes we eat so let’s make sure they are the best tomatoes.
Organic tomatoes contain higher levels of antioxidants than conventional tomatoes according to a 2012 study
How to Prepare Tomatoes
- Always wash tomatoes under cool running water and pat dry.
- Avoid recipes that ask for the seeds to be removed as there are so many nutrients in the seeds that you don’t want to lose.
- Contrary to what we may think about cooking and nutrients, cooked tomatoes are better for you. The valuable nutrient lycopene is best absorbed when the tomatoes are cooked. That said, the enzymes and Vitamin C will be destroyed, so it is good to eat some raw ones too.
- Do not peel.
Why it is best not to peel tomatoes
Tomato peels help the carotenoids in tomatoes get absorbed by the intestines according to a study. Also, tomato skin contains most of the flavonols. To get the most health benefits of tomatoes, do not peel them.
- Do not use aluminum cookware; the tomatoes have a high acid content and will interact with the metal in the cookware. We do not want to be eating aluminum for health reasons and it will give them an unpleasant taste.
- It is best to use the whole tomato. There is higher lycopene content in whole tomato products. The skins of tomatoes will make the lycopene and beta-carotene content higher.
Freezing Raw Whole Tomatoes (with their skins) This is much easier than canning tomatoes. The sweet taste of tomatoes is a great addition to many meals. Here is a way to have them available all year.
Now time to get the health benefits of tomatoes with these tasty recipes.
Tasty Tomato Recipes
Tomato Salad Dressing – An easy to make recipe and tasty too. This tomato salad dressing is a very light dressing recipe and is excellent for those wanting a low-fat dressing. Also, it is full of superfoods (olive oil, tomato, and stevia) It is always good to make your own salad dressing so you can use a nutritious oil, not too much salt and no sugar. I have been making my own salad dressing for decades.
Enjoy a Cool Tomato Soup On a Hot Summer Day – This is a one-bowl serving so if you are making it for two, double the recipe.
Tasty Tomato Chutney for Your Meals is Easy to Make –This tasty tomato chutney is a great healthy condiment for a curry meal and it is so easy to prepare.
Avocado Tomato Salad Dressing – This Avocado Tomato Salad Dressing is an easy way to jazz up any salad! This is a base recipe that you can alter with your choice of herbs or salty flavors. This is enough for three large salads. A healthy homemade salad dressing is always the way to go. Those store-bought ones are very often filled with unhealthy ingredients.
Luxurious Asparagus Tomato Salad – This luxurious asparagus tomato salad was enjoyed so much the first time I created the recipe so I never stopped serving it. I used parsley because that is what I had but chopped basil or mint would be good too.
All the recipes at Real Food For Life are super healthy and delicious.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.