Tomato is a rather common fruit in our diet, and is present almost regularly in our food intake. It can be consumed both raw, and also can be an ingredient in cooked dishes. Perhaps, as with everything else we are in habit of viewing daily, the heavy occupancy of this simple fruit in all our lives is the reason why it is given little thought to. When it comes to their usage, they are absolutely indispensable. They are present in vegetable gravies, sandwiches and the unmatchable, ketchup. Besides being sweet and juicy, they are extremely healthy. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, and E and improve vision. They also have high amounts of minerals like potassium and calcium, and antioxidant phytochemicals like lycopene. Not only are tomatoes tremendously nutritive, they have a very low amount of calories and high fiber content. This makes them an essential component of diet food and salads. The high water content also proves them to be rather filling. This also contributes to their health benefits. Though they do have certain drawbacks, they are valid only in highly rare and special cases. Following are the topmost important reasons that make tomatoes a very healthy choice.
1. Prevent heart diseases and strokes
The biggest health benefit awarded by tomato consumption is prevention against heart diseases. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, which lowers the blood pressure and minimizes the risk for disease. Lycopene lowers the risk of lipid peroxidation, which is a process where fats being carried around in the bloodstream or of the surrounding membranes get destroyed. This can lead to blockages in blood vessels. Also, minerals like vitamin B6 and folate present in tomatoes are used by the body to covert homocysteine into non-dangerous molecules. Homocysteine can directly damage the blood vessels and cause strokes.
2. Reduce cancer
Tomatoes help in fighting cancer, due to their high antioxidant properties present majorly due to lycopene and other antioxidant anti-inflammatory components, as two of the major issues relating to cancer risks are oxidative stress and inflammation. Antioxidants like vitamins A and C help in the destruction of free radicals that cause cell damage. These radicals deprive the cells of their oxygen and make them prone to diseases. Lycopene, which is also essentially an antioxidant, also helps in reducing risk of cancers like prostrate, breast, cervical, pancreatic, pharynx, ovarian and many others. Alpha-tomatine, an important phytonutrient of tomato, is known to have properties to cause apoptosis of full grown prostate cancer cells in men.
3. Stronger bones
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin K and calcium, both of which are extremely helpful in strengthening bones. Osteocalcin, a protein present in the bones gets activated by Vitamin K, which is provided in high quantity by consumption of tomatoes. Osteocalcin mineralizes calcium molecules present in bones when vitamin K is provided, and calcium in turn strengthens our bones. Another important component that strengthens bones is lycopene. Lycopene is a bright red phytochemical found not only in tomatoes, but other red colored vegetables also. Lycopene is known to be extremely beneficial for bones, and helps fight osteoporosis, which is a bone deterioration disease occurring mostly in females.
4. Anti-inflammatory properties
Tomatoes contain minerals that prevent inflammatory diseases. Not only does anti-inflammation helps in reducing the risks of cancer, it can also reduce chronic pain in patients. Tomatoes have high content of bioflavonoids and carotenoids which are very strong anti-inflammation phytochemicals. They help in reducing moderate and slight levels of chronic pain, such as arthritis or back pain. TNF-alpha, a cytokine produced by white blood cells, causes inflammation up to 34% when present in blood cells. Its levels can be reduced drastically by regular consumption of seedless tomatoes. This leads to reduction to inflammation which brings pain relief.
5. Lower blood pressure
Once again, lycopene contents of tomatoes come in handy in lowering the blood pressure of patients. Blood pressure rises significantly when our diet lacks potassium content. It is increased further by sodium consumption is high, since potassium flushes sodium out of the system. Tomatoes lower the blood pressure as it provides more than enough potassium to the body. Tomatoes also reduce blood sugar levels. They are excellent sources of chromium and fiber, which keep the blood sugar in check. They also contain very little amount of carbohydrates, which keeps the glucose level of urine in control. They are a must for diabetics.
6. Protection of organs
Along with other benefits, organs like liver and gall bladder also benefit tremendously from the intake of nutrients present in tomatoes. Congestion of liver is dealt with by tomato consumption.Tomatoes help in prevention of kidney stones, and aid in dissolution of gallstones. Cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease, is a condition that comes into factor due to alcoholism. The sulfur content in tomatoes helps fight cirrhosis. Chlorine and sulfur also aid the detoxification process, especially natural chlorine which stimulates liver for detoxification of body wastes.
7. Prevent acidosis
Acidosis is defined as abnormally high quantity of acid in body tissues and blood. Human body is supposed to be naturally alkaline and our normal pH is 7.365. However, due to unbalanced dietary habits and lack of sufficient exercise, the body tissues tend to become more acidified. Even so, our body manages to maintain this pH and prevent acidosis, at any cost, and draws alkaline minerals from anywhere it can manage. This is highly dangerous and the body can in turn become prone to illnesses like cancer, heart diseases, osteoporosis etc. To counteract this, consumption of food items with alkaline minerals present in them is essential. Tomatoes, being rich in elements like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, reduce and prevent acidosis by maintaining the pH level of the body to alkaline levels.
8. Increase sperm count
Tomato consumption works against impotency and increases sperm account. Sperm agility is also increased. When cooked in olive oil, the lycopene is absorbed more properly in the body, and its bioavailability increases. This is significantly helpful for people with erectile dysfunction, and improves their sexual life.
9. Immunity boost
Tomatoes are credited to help fight illnesses like flu, cold and also common viral infections. This is because it has been studied that these maladies are able to take control of our system because of deficiency of carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. Regular consumption of tomato juice helps build immunity against common diseases as the body is furnished with the required carotenoids.
10. Improve skin quality
Not only tomatoes provide nutrition and have properties to keep the body healthy, they also help in improving skin quality in more than one way. Lycopene in tomatoes acts as a natural sunscreen and provides protection from UV rays, and skin with high lycopene content is not only naturally softer than others, the lines and wrinkles are also reduced. Lycopene is also protective against skin cancer due to its antioxidant properties. Skin porosity is also complimented, and oxygen intake is enabled to a better degree. Beta carotene helps in protection against sun damage too. Erythema, a rash developed due to exposure of skin to sun, is also prevented by regular consumption. Tomato puree and olive oil together act as a strong antioxidant and lead to a glowing skin.