Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.
Alpha-lipoic acid helps the body to convert glucose into energy. Some evidence suggests that alpha-lipoic acid can aid in blood glucose control, improve vasodilation and protect against retinopathy in diabetic patients and may even help preserve brain and nerve tissue.
Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. Tomatoes account for 80 percent of lycopene consumption.
Choline is an important nutrient found in tomatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
Cancer: As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C and other antioxidants, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
Prostate Cancer: Lycopene has been linked with prostate cancer prevention in several studies.
Colorectal Cancer: Beta-carotene consumption has been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer. High fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
Blood pressure: Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects.
Heart health: The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health.
Diabetes: Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides about 2 grams of fiber.
Skin: Collagen, the skins support system, is reliant on vitamin C as an essential nutrient that works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution and smoke, smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Constipation: Eating foods that are high in water content and fiber like tomatoes can help to keep you hydrated and your bowel movements regular. Fiber is essential for minimizing constipation and adding bulk to the stool.
Pregnancy: Adequate folic acid intake is essential for pregnant women to protect against neural tube defects in infants.
Depression: The folic acid in tomatoes may also help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.
Risks & Precautions:
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as tomatoes should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal.
Those with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience an increase in symptoms such asheartburn and regurgitation when consuming highly acidic foods such as tomatoes, however individual reactions vary.