Let’s take a look at what makes the tomato particularly excellent!
1. Tomatoes 101: One serving of red, ripe, raw tomatoes (one cup or 150 grams) is a good source of Vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. Tomatoes are naturally low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. Tomatoes also provide thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, all of which are necessary for good health.
On top of that, one serving of tomatoes gives you 2 grams of fiber, which is 7% of the daily recommended amount. Tomatoes also have a relatively high water content, which makes them a filling food. In general eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, confers protection against high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, and heart disease.
One tomato packs one powerful punch of nutrition, but there’s much more!
2. Healthy Skin: Tomatoes make your skin look great. Beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, helps protect skin against sun damage. Tomatoes’ lycopene also makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles.
3. Strong Bones: Tomatoes build strong bones.The vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes are both very good for strengthening and repairing bones.
Lycopene also has been shown to improve bone mass, which is a great way to fight osteoporosis.
4. Fight Cancer: Tomatoes are a natural cancer fighter. Lycopene (again!) can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal, prostate and ovarian cancer. Tomatoes’ antioxidants (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage.
5. Blood Sugar: Tomatoes can keep your blood sugar in balance. Tomatoes are a very good source of chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar.
6. Good Vision: Tomatoes can keep your blood sugar in balance. Tomatoes are a very good source of chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar.
7. Healthy Hair: Tomatoes will even make your hair look better.The vitamin A found in tomatoes works to make hair strong and shiny. (Sorry, tomatoes cannot help much with thinning hair—but they will make the hair you have look better!)
8. Reduce Chronic Pain: Tomatoes can reduce chronic pain. If you are one of the millions of people who deal with mild to moderate chronic pain (such as from arthritis or back pain), tomatoes may be a pain-buster. Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are known anti-inflammatory agents.
Chronic pain often involves chronic inflammation, so attacking the inflammation is a good way to fight the chronic pain. (Many commercial drugs that fight pain are actually anti-inflammatory drugs.)
9. Help Lose Weight: Tomatoes can help you lose weight. If you are on a sensible diet and exercise plan, build lots of tomatoes into your everyday eating. They make a great snack and can be used to “bulk up” salads, casseroles, sandwiches and other meals. Because tomatoes contain lots of water and fiber, they are what Weight Watchers calls a “filling food,” one of those foods that fills you up fast without adding a lot of calories or fat.
Also, did you know the health benefits of tomatoes can be boosted by cooking?
The absorption of carotenoids and flavonoids from tomatoes is greater from cooked tomatoes than fresh tomatoes, since cooking breaks down the tomato cell matrix and makes the carotenoids more available.
Addition of olive oil to diced tomatoes during cooking greatly increases the absorption of lycopene. Oil is essential for absorbing carotenoids from tomatoes in salads or salsa. There is almost no absorption of these vital nutrients from salad eaten with a non-fat dressing.
Here are some easy ways to eat tomatoes:
· Add sliced tomatoes to sandwiches—from tuna to turkey
· Chop tomatoes in salad (leave them at room temperature, if possible)
· Use marinara or tomato sauces (canned, cooked, or homemade) on pasta; this can be big calorie savings when you swap out creamy sauces for tomato-based sauces
· Drink tomato juice or vegetable juice with tomatoes
· Tomatoes for breakfast? Top scrambled eggs with coarsely chopped tomatoes or add them to a breakfast taco
· Eat tomatoes as a mid-afternoon snack (my father used to eat them like an apple—but you can use a knife and fork)
· Make a tomato sandwich—this is a sandwich that stars the tomato. The classic dressing for this sandwich is mayonnaise, but I know some people who like tomatoes and mustard
· Add canned or stewed tomatoes to soups and stews, like vegetable soup or beef stew
· Serve stewed tomatoes over a baked potato (also great on mashed potatoes)
· Make your own salsa with lots of fresh tomato—salsa is a great replacement for high-fat salad dressings as well as being tasty on meats, fish, and eggs
Sources: BeliefNet.Com, The Huffington Post
Here is an excellent article on why tomatoes are one of the world's healthiest foods: