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Tomatoes are the most widely eaten vegetable in the world, second only to the potato. They have a sweet, tangy and versatile flavour and hence they are an important ingredient in many traditional and modern cuisines across the globe. Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Mexican, Indian and many other cuisines call for tomatoes as a vital element. Tomatoes possess a large number of health benefits. It is rich in oxalates, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, citric acid, flavanoids etc. It can be useful in strengthening the teeth and bones, lower blood pressure, prevention of cardiovascular diseases, prevention of cancer and other ailments, improving the metabolism of the body and boosting overall health.
What is Tomato?
Tomato is an edible berry that belongs to the Solanaceae family. It has more than 1000 cultivars that are grown globally. The origin of the plant can be traced back to South America. The Aztec word Tomatl is the root for the Spanish ‘tomate’ and the English word ‘tomato’. Tomato has a plethora of health benefits. Research conducted on tomatoes have brought the health benefits of the fruit into the limelight. Tomato can cure illnesses like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart ailments and cancer. In this article, we recognized the many benefits of the humble tomato and have mentioned them with scientific proof. Everything that you need to know about the tomato, you will find here.
Benefits of Tomato
1. Can be used to prevent Cancer
According to an article published in the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) tomatoes can help in the prevention of cancer. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes that can prevent the growth of cancer cells. Colorectal, prostate and stomach cancer can be prevented to a great extent if tomatoes are consumed regularly.
2. Good for the bones
National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a research paper that indicated that tomatoes had a positive effect on the bones. A diet constituting tomatoes was supplemented with exercise and the end result showed that lycopene intake in the form of tomatoes increase bone strength. Calcium and Vitamin K found in tomatoes are also good for bone health.
3. Can help smokers recover faster
A study conducted at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showed that natural decline in lung function slowed down manifold in active and passive smokers when supplemented with a tomato-rich diet. Tomatoes showed signs of reversing the lung damage caused by smoking or smoke inhalation.
4. Regulates Blood Pressure
Recent research in medical field shows that tomatoes can regulate the body’s blood pressure. A research article published by the NCBI provides evidence that regular tomato intake brings down the Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP). Tomatoes can also be used as supplements for antihypertensive treatment.
5. Prevents cardiovascular diseases
A study conducted by the researchers of Cambridge University and published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) suggested that tomatoes may be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular consumption of tomatoes can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. They also suggested that further studies are needed in this field to fully translate this small study into a full-fledged clinical benefit.
6. Lower LDL Cholesterol in the Body
According to an article published by the National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), tomatoes have other protective effects on the body. A high dietary intake of tomatoes has shown to lower the LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol) levels in the body. The Niacin in tomato seeds are a key factor in regulating LDL Cholesterol.
7. Scavenges free radicals
A research conducted at the Harvard Medical School and published by Harvard Medical Publishing showed that lycopene is effective in scavenging free radicals from the body. It is a carotenoid and a powerful antioxidant. It scavenges free radicals that harm the cell structure and damage DNA in the body. It also preserves your cardiac health and prevents heart attacks and strokes.
8. Reduces the risk of diabetes
Research has shown that high fibre diet is extremely beneficial for people suffering from diabetes. Tomatoes are rich in dietary fibre. Patients who are suffering from Type I Diabetes and consume a fibre rich diet have shown visibly low blood glucose levels whereas patients suffering from Type II Diabetes who consume a fibre rich diet have shown improved levels of blood sugar, insulin and lipid metabolism. The study was backed by evidence from the NCBI that suggested that tomatoes are helpful in bringing down the blood pressure and reducing the risk of diabetes.
9. Prevents Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Diseases
A research article published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that tomato and its components are beneficial in reducing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is also helpful in curbing obesity and obesity related liver cancer.
10. Improves Eyesight
Of the many properties that tomato possesses, improving eyesight is an important benefit. Tomato has high traces of Vitamin K which is Important for good vision. The deficiency of Vitamin K can lead to night blindness and other diseases associated with the eye. Research has shown that tomato seeds are rich in Vitamin K which when consumed can improve eyesight.
Nutritional Values of Tomato
The nutritional value of 100 gms of raw red tomato
|Dietary Fiber||1.2 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||42 µg|
|Thiamine B1||0.037 mg|
|Niacin B3||0.594 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.08 mg|
|Folate B9||11 µg|
|Vitamin C||15 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.54 mg|
|Vitamin K||7.9 µg|
Risks or Precautions when consuming Tomato
- Lycopene in tomatoes can lead to lycopenodermia, i.e. discoloration of the body and can aggravate problems associated with prostate cancer.
- Tomatoes are high in citric acid, malic acid and oxalic acid. Excessive consumption of the food may lead to acid reflux and heartburn. It can aggravate problems like digestive stress and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Tomatoes contain the compound histamine which is responsible for aggravating allergies. Excessive consumption of tomatoes can trigger allergic reactions like wheezing, sneezing, throat irritation, swelling of face, itchiness among other things.
- Calcium and oxalate are two compounds that are found in abundance in tomatoes. Deposition of calcium in the body can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
How to Consume Tomato
There are many ways to incorporate tomato in our everyday diet. Mentioned below are some of the easiest ways to include tomato in your meals. All you need to do is follow the recipe.
- Tomato Soup
First, blanch and puree 6-7 large tomatoes in a blender and keep aside.
Chop a large white onion and two cloves of garlic. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sauté the onion and garlic till the rawness goes away. Then add the tomato puree and season with salt, white pepper and dried oregano. Once the mixture reduces, add two cups of vegetable stock and simmer on low flame for 15- 20 minutes. Blend it a final time before serving.
- Roasted Tomatoes
Cut out the core of 7 to 8 large ripe tomatoes with a paring knife and then scoop out their centre carefully, leaving the shells intact. Chop two to three large onions, three to four cloves of garlic and an inch of ginger and keep aside. Boil two cups soya nuggets and chop them roughly. In a large wok, add 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil and toss in the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute it on high flame for a few minutes. Then add the soya nuggets and a cup of bread crumbs and fry till the water evaporates. Add salt and Italian seasoning. Let the mixture cool. Ten add a cup full of parmesan or mozzarella. Stuff the mixture into the tomato shells. Grate some cheese on top and bake in an oven for 20 minutes at 180◦C and broil it for another few minutes.
Some Fun Facts about Tomatoes
- La Tomatina, held at small Valencian town of Bunol, East of Spain, is one of the oldest tomato festivals in the world. The festival is supposed to have originated in the year 1944 or 1945.
- There are more than 10000 cultivars of tomatoes in the world. Some tomato cultivars have the most amazing names like Beefsteak, Brandywine, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Fourth of July, Early Girl, Santorini, McDreamy etc.
- The Purple tomato or Blue tomato is a very rich source of anthocyanins which have anti oxidative properties. The tomatoes were conventionally grown by researchers at Oregon State University.
- Dan Sutherland from the USA holds the world record of growing the largest tomato in the world. The tomato weighed 3.906 kgs on August 30th
Tomatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. They contain compounds like lycopene, tomatine, citric acid, ethylene, anthocyanin, flavonoids, etc. All of these compounds serve to uplift your health. Many compounds like lycopene increase when cooked. So you can easily curry up your tomato without having to worry about destroying its essential compounds. You can also consume raw tomatoes in salad, salsa, burgers etc. Eat it any way you want, it will still provide all the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.