Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain wast number of beneficial micronutrients, antioxidants and other compounds which improve health and well-being. They are low calorie food with low glycemic index and hence low glycemic load and can be consumed fresh or processed.
Nutritional Values of Tomatoes
Nutritional values of tomatoes are given in the following table. Values are for 100g of edible tomatoes - note that these values changes and that they are average values of most present nutrients.
|Nutritional values of 100g of tomatoes|
Dietary Fibers 1g
Calories 18 kcal
Vitamin A 833 IU
Vitamin C 13mg
Vitamin K 7.9 mcg
Phytosterols 7 mg
Cholesterol 0 mg
Of course, many other vitamins and minerals are present, but their amounts are below 10% of RDA in 100g of tomatoes.
Tomatoes are mostly water, they contain only 18 kcal per 100g of edible portion. With 1g of dietary fibers, they are low calorie, high volume food, highly recommended for weight management. Also, vitamins A, C and K, plus other vitamins and minerals help maintain overall health.
Note that double blind studies of tomato's influence on human health are really hard to carry out, especially for groups including individuals having various cancers and other similar health issues.
Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene (lycopene has highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids). These carotenoids may have individual benefits, but also have synergy (act stronger) as a group. The best way to get lycopene (mostly in the skin of tomatoes - giving them their red appearance) is through cooked tomatoes. Tomatoes should be cooked with a little bit of healthy oil (for example - cold pressed virgin olive oil) - such lycopene is easily absorbed and carried into the bloodstream.
Vitamins A, C, E and K boost immune system and prevent and help fight free radicals and certain cancers (prostate, pancreas etc). Also, fibers present in tomatoes are very beneficial for digestive system by improving digestion and preventing constipation.
Antioxidants and carotenoids protect our cells from destructive free radicals - molecules that can harm cells and damage DNA.
Long story short, tomatoes reduce heart diseases and prevent stroke, they prevent and help fight various cancers, prevent kidney and gall bladder stones, improve health of skin, hair, eyes, bones etc., boost immune system, reduce blood clot risk etc.
Tomatoes contain no cholesterol (LDL cholesterol is 'bad' cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is 'good' one) and, unfortunately tomatoes contain no vitamin D - vitamin D can be found almost exclusively in sea food (fish).
Tomatoes also improve taste of many foods, cooked or raw. If you have chance to enjoy organic tomatoes from your own garden, do so on a daily basis - include them into your salads, sandwiches and cocktails whenever you have opportunity. Although cooking can lead to loss of some vitamins due to the heat, feel free to add unpeeled tomatoes to your dishes - they will improve taste and increase amount of available lycopene and other beneficial compounds.
If you don't have your own garden, tomatoes can be grown in the pots, indoors, especially cherry tomatoes that can be grown in hanging baskets without any additional support near the windows, with or without artificial lighting.