Native to South America, tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of fruits. The family includes chilli peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and other familiar vegetables. Lycopersicon esculentum is its scientific term. This exotic vegetable is grown and stays available for consumption in all seasons. Even with its botanical classification as a fruit, it is commonly consumed and served as a vegetable. Tomatoes are the primary source of lycopene, an antioxidant associated with various health advantages, including a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. In addition, they have vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K in abundance.
The first instance of tomato cultivation was by the Aztecs way before the Spanish introduced it to the world. People grow and cultivate them in different ways as per demand. Therefore, it varies in size, colour and cultivation methods. In addition, it can be organic, hybrid or modified as per preference. Tomatoes are typically red when fully mature, but they can sometimes be yellow, orange, green, or purple. Furthermore, there are numerous subspecies of tomatoes, each having its shape and flavour.
Nutritional Properties of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are nutrient-dense plant food. It is not an unknown fact that consuming plant-based products is beneficial for healthy living, and tomatoes are no different. For example, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer reduces as the quantity of plant-based foods in the diet increases. In addition, they are high in vitamin K, calcium, and lycopene, which are beneficial to bone repair, strengthening, and increased bone mass.
Tomatoes have a water content of approximately 95%. Carbohydrates and fibre make up the remaining 5% of it.
A 100-gram raw tomato contains :
- Calories: 18
- Water: 95%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 2.6 grams
- Fibre: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
Tomatoes are also widely popular for their antioxidant properties. The antioxidants are:
- Beta carotene
- Phenolic acids
Vitamins and Minerals: Tomatoes carry vitamins and minerals in abundance.
- A medium-sized tomato can fulfil 28% of vitamin C’s Daily Reference Intake (RDI). Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and a powerful antioxidant.
- Vitamin K1: Also called phylloquinone, Vitamin K1 helps prevent blood clotting and promotes bone health.
- Vitamine B9 (Folate): Folate, a type of vitamin B, is required for healthy tissue development and cell activities. It’s especially crucial for women during pregnancy.
- Potassium: Potassium aids in controlling blood pressure and also prevents heart diseases. It is one of the many nutrients found in tomatoes.
Carbs: Carbs make up 4% of raw tomatoes, resulting in less than 5 grams of carbs in a medium specimen (123 grams). Simplified sugars like glucose and fructose account for over 70% of the carb load.
Fibre: Tomatoes are a rich source of fibre, with an average-sized tomato containing roughly 1.5 grams of fibre. Insoluble fibres such as hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin make up the majority of the fibres in tomatoes (87%).
Health Benefits of Tomato
1. Prevents Cancer
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules responsible for cancer growth. They are unstable and constantly seek other atoms or molecules to bond. As a result, it triggers oxidative stress, which highly damages the cells. In addition, free radicals destroy all the essential elements of the cells like DNA, proteins and cell membranes.
Antioxidants mitigate the effect of oxidative stress and prevent the development of free radicals. In addition, they donate their atoms to the free radicals and make them stable and less reactive.
Lycopene (an antioxidant), a polyphenol or plant constituent in tomatoes, helps to prevent prostate cancer. It’s also what gives tomatoes their distinctive reddish colour. As per a study, products made from tomatoes contribute 80% of the dietary lycopene consumed in the United States.
Another study suggests that consuming beta-carotene may reduce colon cancer chances. Eating Beta-carotene-rich diets also aids in the prevention of colorectal cancer. In addition, as per another study, the consumption of high amounts of beta-carotene prevents tumour development in prostate cancer.
The consumption of fibre from fruits and vegetables also lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.
2. Blood Pressure Control
Low sodium intake helps keep your blood pressure in control. At the same time, potassium intake helps lower blood pressure. Tomatoes are rich in potassium, and therefore, they help promote a healthy blood pressure level. High potassium intake lowers the amount of sodium in the body by facilitating the removal of extra sodium through the kidneys. Potassium may be significant due to its effects on the arteries that widen them. In addition, it relieves the increased and accumulated tension from the blood vessel walls. As a result, it further reduces blood pressure.
As per a study, high potassium intake and low sodium reduce death risk from all such causes by 20%.
3. Lowers Heart Disease Risk
Tomatoes are high in fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and choline. All these are beneficial to heart health.
An essential dietary reform to minimise cardiovascular disease risk is raising potassium consumption and decreasing salt intake. Potassium prevents calcium accumulation in smooth muscle cells located within arteries. This phenomenon is called vascular calcification.
Vascular calcification is harmful to the heart as it hardens the arteries and further limits the blood flow. Conversely, high potassium intake lowers cardiovascular disease risk and prevents muscle degeneration. In addition, it maintains bone mineral density and decreases kidney stone formation.
This vegetable contains folate, which keeps homocysteine levels balanced. Homocysteine is an amino acid that our body releases when proteins break down. In addition, studies suggest that it leads to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. So, when folate manages homocysteine levels, it reduces heart disease risk.
4. Diabetes Control
According to studies, people with type 1 diabetes who eat a high-fibre diet may experience lowered blood glucose levels. At the same time, people with type 2 diabetes may experience better blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.
You can find about 2 grams of fibre in a cup of cherry tomatoes. In addition, they have a GI of less than 15, making them a low GI food and an excellent choice for diabetes. People with diabetes should eat foods with a GI score of less than 55. They are also low in calories, which helps maintain a healthy weight.
According to a study, eating 200 grams of raw tomato per day (equivalent to 1.5 medium tomatoes) lowers blood pressure in adults with type 2 diabetes. Eating tomatoes also helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
5. Prevents Constipation
Tomatoes are a laxative fruit. Consuming meals heavy in water and fibre, like tomatoes, may aid hydration and promote regular bowel movements. It is because insoluble fibres are not water-soluble. As a result, they do not dissolve food particles and carry them out of the body by adding more bulk to the stool. They provide about 10% of the daily fibre intake, resulting in improved digestion and bowel movement.
6. It Helps Heal Damage Done by Smoking
Smoking causes the body to produce an excessive amount of free radicals. Vitamin C can effectively neutralise them. As a result, tomatoes can be beneficial to smokers. Vitamin C in tomatoes helps eliminate artery blockage that affects proper heart functioning. It has antioxidant properties which protect the cells and other vital molecules of the body from getting oxidised and damaged.
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to heart disease and cancer. According to a study, men and women who do not smoke require 90 mg and 75 mg of vitamin C, respectively. On the other hand, smokers need 35 mg. One hundred grams of raw tomatoes can give you around 13.7 mg of vitamin C.
7. Skin Benefits
Tomatoes have acidic properties and are high in potassium and vitamin C. These nutrients improve dull skins and bring radiance. Furthermore, they have lycopene, an antioxidant that helps the body tackle free radicals. Other than that, it aids in treating skin disorders associated with ageing and UV exposure, making it an excellent skin rejuvenator. In addition, tomatoes’ astringent characteristics aid in the reduction of excess sebum on the skin’s surface. As a result, it limits oil buildup and reduces the likelihood of blackheads and whiteheads.
Furthermore, tomatoes have pore-shrinking qualities, and they promote skin tightening. As a result, they help prevent acne and pimples. Therefore, tomatoes are a multipurpose and popular remedy for treating skin problems.
8. Improves Vision
One of the reasons tomatoes are suitable for the eyes is that they are high in vitamin A. Our retina needs vitamin A. Low amounts of the vitamin can lead to blindness over time. In addition, they contain lycopene, which protects the eyes from the damage of free radicals. People with higher lycopene levels face a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. Lycopene further guards the eyes against irritation caused by the sun.
Vitamin C and copper are two additional eye-friendly substances found in tomatoes. While the former can help prevent age-related cataracts, the latter aids in producing melanin, the eye’s crucial black pigment. As per studies, when you consume beta-carotene, it transforms into retinol, necessary for good eye health.
Best Recipes Using Tomatoes
1. Tomato Juice
Based on the ripeness and the variety, some tomatoes taste sweeter than others. Since you are making juice, use ripened tomatoes. You may add jaggery powder, organic raw honey, maple syrup to neutralize the acidic content of the juice.
- Medium-sized fresh ripe tomatoes: 3
- Chopped celery with leaves: 1 1/4 cups
- Jaggery powder: 2 tbsp.
- Salt: 1 teaspoon
- Pinch black pepper
- Tabasco sauce: 6-8 drops (as per taste)
- Blend tomato slices until it comes to a thick puree form.
- Blend in the celery sticks and a little water for another 5-10 seconds.
- Place a thin cloth or strainer over a bowl and pour the pureed mixture through it.
- Press the puree with the back of the spoon to squeeze out most of the juice.
- Put the collected juice in a glass and add jaggery powder as per taste
- If you want your juice to have a hint of spice, add a few Tabasco sauce drops to the liquid.
Note – for more benefits, can consume without straining.
Due to the collagen content, drinking tomato juice promotes the growth of healthy hair, nails and skin. In addition, drinking 1 cup (240 ml) of tomato juice fulfils the daily vitamin C requirement. It also provides 22% of the daily vitamin A needs in the form of alpha and beta-carotenoids.
2. Tomato Walnut Tilapia:
- Tilapia fillets: 4
- Salt: 1/4 teaspoon
- Pepper: 1/4 teaspoon
- Medium thinly sliced tomato: 1
- Whole wheat/multi-grain bread crumbs: 1/2 cup
- Chopped walnuts: 1/4 cup
- Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
- Melted butter: 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Use salt and pepper to season the fillets.
- Spray a large pan with cooking spray and then put the fillets in it. Cook the fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side over medium flame.
- Place the fish on a baking sheet or a broiler pan and top it with tomato.
- Mix all of the topping ingredients and spread over the tomato slices.
- Broil for 2-3 mins till the topping turns golden brown, and the fish comes off easily.
Note: 1 fillet contains 202 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 67mg cholesterol, 251mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fibre), 23g protein.
Tomatoes: Probable Side Effects
Although there are no significant allergic reactions to tomato consumption, it’s not entirely non-existent. People with sensitive body types can show allergic symptoms like running nose, itching, gastrointestinal disturbances, including vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach ache.
Potassium overdose can be dangerous for those who have poor kidney function. Extra potassium in the blood can be hazardous. The body sometimes fails to process the additional potassium presence. When eating highly acidic foods, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may notice a rise in symptoms like heartburn and vomiting. You should note that the reaction and the severity of reactions can differ from person to person.
Individuals allergic to grass pollen are likely to be more prone to tomato allergy, even though chances of allergy are rare. This allergy is called Pollen-food allergy syndrome, often known as oral allergy syndrome.
Currently, tomatoes are the third most popular fresh vegetable in the market. Attributing it to its nutritional value and versatility in its uses, it has always been in demand worldwide. They form part of the majority of people’s primary diet. It boosts the health of people in numerous ways that is nothing but fascinating to explore.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the benefits of eating raw tomatoes?
A. Eating raw tomatoes may bring you several benefits. Raw tomatoes are loaded with Vitamin C, an essential nutrient and a powerful antioxidant that improves our immunity and shield us from many health issues.
Q: What happens if you eat tomatoes every day?
A: Eating tomatoes every day is highly beneficial. It helps improve heart health, prevents cancer risk and helps to improve skin. So it’s completely fine to eat tomatoes every day, but you should eat them in moderation.
Q: How many tomatoes should I eat daily?
A: Eating 1-2 tomatoes can fulfil the daily requirement of vitamins, fibre and other essential nutrients. You should remember not to overeat because it may lead to health complications like acidity, itching, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Q: Why are tomatoes bad?
A: Tomatoes are beneficial for your health. However, if you consume them in more than recommended quantities, they can lead to pain and swelling in joints. That is because it contains an alkaloid called solanine. It’s a toxin that leads to inflammation and affects the joints.
Q: Does tomato increase immunity?
A: Tomato is an immune booster that contains a high dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells against damage from free radicals, which can negatively affect your immune system. They provide the three major antioxidant vitamins: beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. As a result, they are potent immunity boosters.
Q: Is tomato good for skin?
A: Yes. Tomatoes have antioxidants that enhance collagen production and fight inflammation. In addition, it also helps with anti-ageing. The pore-shrinking and skin tightening properties help reduce and treat your acne. Thus, it is an excellent fruit for your skin.
Q: What vitamins do tomatoes have?
A; Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins. A medium-sized tomato can fulfil 28% of vitamin C’s Daily Reference Intake (RDI). Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and a powerful antioxidant. In addition, they are rich in vitamin K, which helps prevent blood clotting and promote bone health. Furthermore, tomatoes also contain vitamin B9, which helps in healthy tissue development and cell activity.
Q: What are the disadvantages of eating tomatoes?
A: There are no significant disadvantages of eating tomatoes. However, some of the possible side effects from excess tomato consumption are acid reflux, allergies and kidney stones. In addition, an alkaloid called solanine in tomatoes may cause inflammation and further lead to swelling and pain in joints.
Q. What are the side effects of eating tomatoes?
A. A compound called histamine in tomatoes may lead to an allergic reaction and skin rashes. Hence, if you are allergic to tomatoes, you may experience swelling of the tongue, face and mouth. In addition, it may also cause dermatitis, an allergic reaction. Furthermore, an allergy to tomatoes may cause sneezing and sore throat.
Q: Is tomato bad for the kidney?
A: If you eat tomatoes in moderation, they are not bad for kidneys. Tomatoes have high oxalate levels. If consumed in excess, our kidneys sometimes fail to remove them. It may result in kidney stones. However, like other possible side effects, this too may result from overconsumption. So, you should always consume them in moderation.
Q: Who should avoid tomatoes?
A: People with weak kidney functions, joint and bone pain should avoid consuming tomatoes in excess. It contains potassium, and high potassium content in the body may be hazardous for a weak kidney.
Q: What is the nutritional value of a tomato?
A: Tomatoes are 95% water. In addition, 100 grams of the fruit contain 18 calories, 0.9 grams of protein, 3.9 grams of sugar, 1.2 grams of fibre and 0.2 grams of fat. Furthermore, they are also rich in vitamins C, K and B9.
Q: Is tomato good for weight loss?
A: Although there is no direct correlation between tomato and weight loss. However, tomatoes are low in carbohydrates and rich in fibre. Fibre helps one feel full, preventing excessive eating. It ultimately results in controlling calorie intake. In addition, it helps improve gut health and bowel movement. These are the fundamentals of weight loss. As a result, moderate consumption may help to lose weight.
Q: Do tomatoes burn belly fat?
A: Tomatoes are rich in fat burning amino acids called carnitine. Additionally, they contain leptin, a protein type that improves metabolic activities leading to the active burning of fats. It does not target any specific body part, but fat reduction affects belly fat.
Q. How many tomatoes is too many?
A. Although there is insufficient research to prove the maximum amount of tomatoes you can consume in a day, scientists say that eating 1-2 large tomatoes or six cherry tomatoes is sufficient. So, you should limit your consumption to that.
Q: Can tomatoes raise heart rate?
A: No, tomatoes regulate heart rate and keep them in check. It improves heart health by preventing plaque buildup that causes blood clots and blockage in the heart’s arteries. It also helps lower the cholesterol level, which reduces the pressure on the heart and keeps the heart rate in check.
Q: Can diabetics eat tomatoes?
A: Yes, tomatoes help improve the condition of people who have diabetes. Tomatoes are very low in carbohydrates. Diabetic patients are advised to consume food with low carbohydrate levels. In addition, several studies prove that tomatoes help improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Q. Is tomato juice good for diabetics?
A. Tomato juice may help reduce the chances of heart trouble in people with type 2 diabetes. Heart troubles complicate the disease. Studies suggest that drinking tomato juice for three weeks may have a blood-thinning effect in people with the disease. In addition, it may reduce “platelet aggregation” — the blood’s ability to clot.
Q: Can we apply tomato on our face daily?
A: Yes, we can apply tomatoes on our face daily. It helps in the shrinkage of pores. In addition, it tightens the skin and gives it a wrinkle-free look. It also helps get rid of dirt and germs, giving you glowing skin. Tomatoes also act as a natural cleanser. Additionally, they also prevent the growth of blackheads by inhibiting wide-open pores.
Q: Is tomato good for skin complexion lightening?
A: Yes. Tomatoes are naturally occurring bleaching agents, and they lighten the skin colour if you apply them regularly. Antioxidants help lighten the skin tone. Tomatoes are rich in VItamin C, which is an antioxidant. Moreover, it contains lycopene which also aids in skin lightening.
Q: Does tomato remove dark spots?
A: Yes. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which helps to lighten the dark marks on the skin. Additionally, they are rich in antioxidants that help prevent photodamage from sun rays. It reduces the risk of abnormal skin pigmentation.