October 22, 2012

Health Benefits of Tomato

Tomato  , the “Love Apple” is a citrus fruit. They are sweet and juicy and healthy. Tomatoes are very versatile as they can be eaten as a salad, in a sandwich or as gravy for vegetables – not to forget “the all important sauce.”
Eating tomatoes is great because this fruit /vegetable (whatever you may call it) has plenty of health benefits. Tomatoes are non starchy, low calorie and play such an important role in American diet today, that it is impossible to believe that till the 1800’s they were considered toxic.

Health Benefits

Tomato contains amazing amounts of lycopene which is said to have anti oxidant properties. Studies have shown that tomato can reduce prostate cancer especially in synergy with broccoli. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggested that ‘the intake of tomatoes and tomato products is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer. This benefit may be related to the antioxidant properties of lycopene, but other potential mechanisms and other beneficial tomato-based components instead of or combined with lycopene cannot be excluded’.

Another study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil the body’s absorption of carotenoid phytochemicals including lycopene can increase.

Tomatoes are a rich source of potassium; a cup of tomato juice has 534mg of potassium and half a cup of tomato sauce has 454mg of potassium. Physiologically, potassium plays an important role in transmission of nerve signals, fluid balance in the body and many other important chemical reactions. Potassium is used to treat high blood pressure, insulin resistance, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscle weakness, and even bloating and intestinal disorders.

Dr. John Cook Bennett of the Institute of Aberdeen found that the yellow gel surrounding tomato seeds could prevent clotting so as to prevent strokes and heart disease. Nutrients like Niacin and folate reduce heart problems to a great extent.

Other health benefits include -

Tomatoes work against impotency and help increase the sperm count.

Tomatoes are powerful blood purifiers and clear up urinary tract infections.

They have anti oxidant properties as they are high sources of vitamin C and vitamin A. The Vitamin A especially wards off macular degeneration and improves eyesight.

A person who drinks 8 ounces of low sodium tomato juice a day, can prevent inflammatory diseases like osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

High in fiber they are freely used by weight watchers.

They are good for improving skin porosity and are widely used in the manufacture of skin care and beauty products.

The Down Side

Some people may be allergic to tomatoes; their body cannot absorb and digest them.

In some individuals eating tomatoes in salads can lead to itching, hives and breathing problems.

Lycopene intolerance can cause bloating of the stomach, pain and diarrhea.

For some, eating tomatoes in any form can result in heart burn and reflux.

When a person has a history of kidney stones, it would be wise to eat tomatoes in moderation as the high oxalate and calcium bind together and kidney stones are a result.

Those diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome will need to go slow on consuming tomatoes.

Eaten in moderation, they will not be harmful in anyway. The nutritional benefits are many so there is no reason to avoid this simple, cost effective and widely available fruit /vegetable.

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