Even though most people consider tomatoes to be a vegetable, they are actually a fruit. A fruit of the citrus family, to be more precise. They are a food with many versatile characteristics. You can also eat them in a variety of ways.
For instance, in sandwiches or salads, raw, or cooked – to give them that particular sweetness which only they possess. They are also an ideal candidate for canning due to their high acid content.
In fact, tomatoes represent such an important part of the American diet that it sounds ridiculous to hear that they were once thought of as toxic and avoided. It was only in the mid-1800s that they gained their famed title as a ‘staple food’ in the States.
Not only are tomatoes extremely low in calories (an average of 22 calories per piece) they also give you 40% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, as well as 20% of the recommended vitamin A intake.
And, while it might not seem like much, it’s also worth mentioning the 2% RDA of iron and 1% RDA of calcium. But these are far from the only benefits these round red fruits have to offer you.
We’d like to give you a list of some of the most important ones.
1. Keeps Cancer at Bay
You better believe it. Countless studies have proven this. It appears that the higher number of tomatoes people consume, the lower their risk becomes of developing certain types of cancer. This goes especially for prostate, stomach and lung cancers.
The reason for this is believed to rest in the substance which also gives the tomatoes their red color, called lycopene. It seems to have a protective effect against cancer.
An important piece of information is that the processed kind contains more of this useful substance than the raw vegetable-opps, we mean fruit.
This is because, when you cook them, the process helps to break down the walls of their cells, thus also helping to release the lycopene.
Some further useful information is that you should eat the tomatoes with a bit of (healthy!)fat, such as, say, olive oil. Why? It aids in the absorption of lycopene!
2. Hinder DNA Damage
We already mentioned that tomatoes are filled to the brim with vitamin C, and that they are not bad off on vitamin A either. Well, these vitamins are very important for preventing any DNA damage caused by free radicals.
As a natural, helpful consequence, eating tomatoes can help you in hindering age-related diseases, such as diabetes or atherosclerosis.
3. Lowers Your Chances of Heart Disease
Tomatoes are packed with many vital nutrients, with folate, niacin and the B6 vitamin being part of those. These relate directly to the reduced danger of heart disease.
In a study conducted specifically for this purpose, it turned out that women who consumed 7 to 10 tomato products in a week had their cardiovascular disease risk lowered by 29%.
The results were even more astonishing when they consumed oil-rich tomato products.
4. Protects Against Thrombosis
Another study showed that if one drinks about eight ounces of tomato juice per day, they will significantly reduce their platelet aggregation.
At least this is what happened to the study subjects. The other group which the researchers had tasked with taking a placebo instead showed no positive results whatsoever.
So, if you are looking to protect yourself against thrombosis (which are basically clots in your blood vessels), be sure to drink low-sodium tomato juice on a regular basis.
It needs to be low-sodium because overly high amounts of it can actually cause further complications for this kind of disease.
5. Hinders Inflammation
This one double-blind study made the discovery that consuming even just 1 glass of tomato juice can decrease your TNF-alpha blood levels by as much as 34%.
For those who have not heard of TNF-alpha before, it’s sufficient to know that it causes inflammation in the body (without going into overly scientific explanations).
In patients who are suffering from most degenerative and chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis) they recorded high levels of TNF-alpha.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a fresh tomato and start munching! Or, even better, put on your cooking apron and chef’s hat and start looking up some healthy recipes with high tomato content! Bon appetite!