Tomato is technically a fruit, but is generally categorized as a vegetable.
Benefits of Tomato
Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K. They are usually red when mature, but can come in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, green and purple.
The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consist mainly carbohydrates and fiber. One medium sized tomato (123 grams) contains only 22 calories. Fresh raw tomatoes are low in carbs (4%). The carb content consists mainly of simple sugars and insoluble fibers.
Vitamins & Minerals
Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C: An essential nutrient and antioxidant. One medium sized tomato can provide about 28% of the recommended daily intake. Potassium: An essential mineral, beneficial for blood pressure control and cardiovascular disease prevention. Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is important for blood coagulation and bone health. Folate (B9): One of the B-vitamins, important for normal tissue growth and cell function. It is particularly important for pregnant women. Consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products has been linked to many benefits regarding heart disease, cancer prevention and skin health.
Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, is the world’s most common cause of death.
A study in middle-aged men showed that low blood levels of lycopene and beta-carotene are linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Increasing evidence from clinical trials shows that lycopene supplementation is effective at lowering LDL cholesterol. Clinical trials of tomato products have also shown benefit against inflammation and markers of oxidative stress. They also show a protective effect on the inner layer of our blood vessels and may decrease the risk of blood clotting.
Cancer is a generic term for the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that spread beyond their normal boundaries, often invading other parts of the body (see the best diet therapy during cancer). Observational studies have found links between tomatoes, tomato products, and fewer incidences of prostate-, lung- and stomach cancers. The high lycopene content is believed to be the main reason for these protective effects, but high quality human trials are needed to confirm this. A study in women shows that high concentrations of carotenoids, found in high amounts in tomatoes, may protect against the development of breast cancer.
Tomatoes are considered beneficial for skin health (know what to eat for naturally glowing skin).
Tomato-based foods rich in lycopene and other plant compounds may protect against sunburn. According to one study, there were 40% fewer sunburns after ingesting 40 grams of tomato paste (providing 16 mg of lycopene) with olive oil, every day for 10 weeks.