Vegetables

Health Benefits of Tomato

If you refer to tomatoes as a fruit or a vegetable, there’s no doubt that tomatoes are a dense, super healthy nutrient that most people should enjoy.

Tomatoes have been called a “functional food”, a delicacy that goes far beyond providing just basic nutrition. Due to their beneficial phytochemicals (substances responsible for coloring and protecting food from disease), such as lycopene, tomatoes also play a role in preventing chronic disease and offer other health benefits.

Despite the tomato’s popularity, just 200 years ago in the US, the vegetable was thought to be poisonous, probably because the plant belongs to the nightshade family, of which some species are in fact poisonous.

TOMATO BENEFITS

The benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including tomatoes, are impressive. As the amount of plant foods in the diet increases, the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer decreases.

High intake of fruits and vegetables is also related to healthy skin and hair, increased energy and lower weight. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly reduces the risk of obesity and overall mortality. In addition, the fruit also prevents:

  • Cancer – As an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, tomatoes can help fight the formation of cancer-causing free radicals.
  • Prostate Cancer – Lycopene has been linked to the prevention of prostate cancer in several studies. Among younger men, diets high in beta-carotene (natural pigments responsible for the vibrant colors in some fruits and vegetables) may play a protective role against prostate cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer – High fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. People who have diets rich in tomatoes may have a lower risk of certain cancers, especially prostate, lung and stomach cancers. However, more research is needed to find out what role lycopene may play in preventing or treating cancer. Beta-carotene consumption has been shown to have an inverse relationship with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
  • Blood Pressure – Keeping your sodium intake low helps keep your blood pressure healthy. However, increasing potassium intake may be important because of its vasodilation effects. It can also be concluded that a high potassium intake is associated with a 20% decrease in the risk of dying from various causes.
  • Heart Health – The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline content of tomatoes support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change a person can make to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Tomatoes also contain folic acid, which helps keep homocysteine ​​(an excess amino acid that can cause blood to clot) levels in balance, thus reducing a risk factor for heart disease. High potassium intakes are also linked to reduced risk of stroke, protection against muscle wasting, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduced formation of kidney stones.
  • Diabetes – Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high fiber diets have lower levels of blood glucose (blood glucose level), while people with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. A cup of cherry tomatoes, for example, provides about 2 grams of fiber. 21-25 g of fiber per day is recommended for women and 30-38 g/day for men.
  • Constipation – Eating foods that are high in water and fiber, such as tomatoes, can help with hydration. In addition to promoting good intestinal functioning. Fiber gives stool volume and is essential to minimize constipation.
  • Eye Health – Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the eyes against light damage associated with the development of cataracts and age-related degeneration. The study of age-related eye diseases recently found that people with high dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin (both carotenoids found in tomatoes) had a 35% reduced risk of degeneration.
  • Skin – The synthesis of collagen, an essential component of the skin, hair, nails and connective tissue, depends on vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy. As vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, low intake is linked to increased damage from sunlight, pollution and smoke, leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, blemishes and other adverse health effects.
  • Pregnancy – Adequate intake of folic acid is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants.
  • Depression – Folic acid in tomatoes can help with depression by preventing excess homocysteine ​​from building up in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine ​​interferes with the production of hormones sensitive to serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep and appetite.

TOMATO PROPERTIES

Scientifically called Solanum lycopersicum, tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C, in addition to folic acid. They contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.

There are several types of tomatoes:

  • Carmem Tomato – Also known as “Long Life”, because it lasts a long time. It is ideal for salads.
  • Persimmon Tomato – Ideal for vinaigrette. It has acidity and freshness.
  • Dutch Tomato – Comes with sprigs, also ideal for salads.
  • Débora Tomato – Good for everyday use. With less acidity, but many seeds. Suitable for both sauces and salads.
  • Italian Tomato – Elongated, it’s the best for making sauce. It has fewer seeds and more meaty.
  • Cherry Tomato – Small and sweet. Refreshing, it is suitable for canapés, salads and skewers.
  • Sweet Grapes Tomato – Sweet and grape-like, it can also be used for canapés, salads and skewers.

A medium tomato (approximately 123 grams) provides:

  • 22 calories,
  • 0 grams of fat,
  • 5 grams of carbohydrates (including 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of sugar),
  • 1 gram of protein.

When cooked, the availability of key nutrients such as carotenoids, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin is increased. Cooked tomatoes provide considerably more lutein and zeaxanthin than sun-dried tomatoes and natural cherry tomatoes.

Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their intense red color. Tomatoes represent 80% of lycopene consumption in the average diet.

Choline is an important nutrient found in tomatoes that aids in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps maintain the structure of cell membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, fat absorption, and reduces chronic inflammation.

TOMATO RECIPES

Be sure to store fresh tomatoes at room temperature. Avoid refrigeration as this makes them lose their flavor.

Tips:

  • Cherry tomatoes in pâtés or mixed with yogurt can enhance a snack;
  • Add sliced ​​tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes to your sandwiches and canapés;
  • Add diced canned tomatoes (low sodium) to homemade tomato sauce when making pasta;
  • Peeled or boiled tomatoes, canned and even tomato sauce serve as a base for soups;
  • Make toast with avocado and tomato slices to dare with the fruit;
  • Make a quick vinaigrette with diced tomatoes, onion, pepper, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime;
  • Take fresh tomatoes and add them to rice and beans, salads or meat. Add them to omelets too or make stuffed tomatoes for a healthy and balanced meal;
  • Slice fresh tomatoes and add sliced ​​mozzarella with balsamic vinegar and finely chopped basil and make a quick bruschetta for an appetizer.

For those who like to work with the land, there is the wonderful option of planting tomatoes. Thus, the price will be zero and the confidence and total pride, when consuming a product that comes from the garden itself.

TOMATO HARM

Every year, a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues is made. Tomatoes are often mentioned in this list, leading to the suggestion that people buy organic tomatoes whenever possible in order to minimize exposure to pesticides.

However, it is still much more beneficial to include a huge variety of non-organic products in the diet than just eating a small amount of organic products. The nutritional benefits of eating conventionally grown (non-organic) tomatoes far outweigh the risk of not eating the produce. However, tomatoes must be washed before eating.

Beta-blockers, a type of medication commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause levels of potassium in the blood. Foods high in potassium, such as tomatoes, should be consumed in moderation when taking beta blockers.

Consuming too much potassium can also be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from your blood, it can be fatal.

 

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Benefits and Properties of Cherry

Benefits and Properties of Persimmon

Benefits and Properties of Fig

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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