Tomatoes. Are they vegetables? Are they fruits? Who cares! (Psssst, they are a fruit.) The most important thing is that there are really so many amazing nutritional benefits of tomatoes and you should be eating them.
As a child, my parents had a relatively large garden and tomatoes were one of the things they grew a lot. I can still recall waiting for that first vine-ripened tomato and I wanted to be the lucky one who got that first one. My biggest competition was my father. He would take me out to the garden to inspect the ripening process and when one would barely be turning orange, we would challenge each other to who got the first bite. He usually won!
To this day, tomatoes are one of the foods I always have in my pantry or fruit bowl because, well, I love them.
Fresh tomatoes, Canned tomatoes, Sun-dried tomatoes, Roasted tomatoes, Tomato paste, Tomato sauce… I use them in so many dishes and my body thanks me for it regularly.
So, how can you really nutritionally benefit from eating tomatoes?
#1. High in Vitamin C
Tomatoes are very high in vitamin C which is critical for a strong immune system. A medium-sized tomato contains almost 30% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This vitamin is also important to the health of your eyes and cardiovascular system.
Women who are pregnant can also benefit from eating this fruit and for those of you who want some natural ways to look younger, eating tomatoes can lessen the wrinkling of the skin.
#2. Good for Bone Health
The fruit is high in Vitamin K and calcium which will both contribute to overall bone health. It is never too soon to be thinking about the condition of our bones. As we age, our bones inevitably become weaker and more susceptible to breakage.
Vitamin K also aids in the ability of your body’s blood to clot properly which helps wounds to heal quicker.
#3. A Fat-Free Choice
Consuming too much fat is not healthy for anyone. It can cause weight gain as well as cardiovascular disease and even damage our kidneys and liver.
A small tomato contains so little fat – 0.2 grams – that it can be considered fat free! This is definitely the fruit to indulge in! However, be careful with what you are adding to your tomatoes that may increase the fat intake. For example, I make my own homemade tomato sauce for pasta but add extra virgin olive oil into it. This obviously increases the amount of fat I would be ingesting.
And if you are eating processed tomatoes such as those in jarred spaghetti sauce, there are many things added to it such as preservatives and added sodium, fat, and even sugar. It is always wise to be a label reader!
#4. High in Beta-Carotene
How does the human body use beta-carotene? It turns it into Vitamin A which is crucial if you want to have healthy, glowing skin. It also contributes to healthy mucus membranes, a robust immune system, and proper eye health and vision. Your hair will also become shinier and healthier looking because of it. It is the beta-carotene that gives a tomato its appealing reddish hue.
If you are looking for shiny hair, you can also check out the many beauty uses of avocados.
#5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Tomatoes are low in sodium which is a good food choice for those with high blood pressure or requiring a low-sodium diet. Eating salt (whether it is sprinkled on or naturally occurring) raises the amount of sodium in the bloodstream. This reduces the ability of your kidneys to remove water from your system. As a result, one may experience higher blood pressure.
#6. Very Low in Calories
When it comes to weight loss or weight maintenance, it is important to reduce your caloric intake. Tomatoes are extremely low in terms of calories. A small, raw tomato contains only about 18 calories as it is comprised mainly of water. In fact, 95% of a tomato is water!
As a result, when you eat a tomato you are also preventing yourself from suffering from the effects of dehydration.
#7. Cancer Prevention
One of the best nutritional benefits of tomatoes is that they are high in lycopene, they are known as cancer fighters!
The skin of the tomato contains the highest concentration of lycopene so should be eaten. The riper the tomato, the higher the lycopene levels. And something interesting to note is that the amount of lycopene in processed tomato products is much higher than that in fresh tomatoes.
Keep in mind, when any type of food is processed, other vitamins and vital nutrients may be lost or compromised.
To increase your body’s ability to absorb the lycopene, combine it with a healthy fat.
#8. Regulates Blood Sugars
If you are an individual who has diabetes and looking for ways to manage your diabetes, tomatoes can be of assistance to you. They contain a mineral called chromium that can improve insulin sensitivity.
It can also heighten the body’s ability to metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. The human body needs very little chromium to reap the benefits so tomatoes can help you get what you require.
#9. Improves Digestion
A regular-sized tomato contains about 1.5 grams of fiber which is considered a good source. But why is fiber so important to have in your diet?
Fiber is essential to a healthy digestive system as it helps the body remove waste and toxins. The fiber in tomatoes is of the insoluble variety. This means it stays in its fibrous form and is not dissolvable in water like soluble fiber. Because of this fiber, foods can pass through the digestive system and bulk is added to your stool.
#10. Low in Carbohydrates
If you are following a low carbohydrate diet, tomatoes are a relatively good choice as they are low in carbohydrates but offer so many vitamins and minerals that the body utilizes to function. Because of the low carbohydrates, it can aid in controlling blood glucose levels as well as assist in weight loss and/or maintenance.
Tomatoes are beneficial to your health in any form you choose to consume. Like with any type of food, it is recommended to eat it in the least processed way to reap the nutritional benefits of tomatoes.
Your entire system will function more efficiently inside and out.