Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and beneficial vitamins, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B9, fiber, and potassium. They are also high in an antioxidant known as lycopene, which doctors have proven to have a wide variety of health benefits.
The rest of this article will illustrate the reasons why you should add more tomatoes to your diet.
What Vitamins and Minerals are Found in Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are rich in many vitamins and minerals that are essential for our health:
- Vitamin C – also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C helps your body repair damaged cells and maintain vital functions such as your immune system
- Vitamin K – this vitamin is needed for proper blood clotting and the development of healthy bone tissue
- Potassium – helps regulate blood pressure and preventing heart disease
- Vitamin B9 – also known as folate, this important vitamin is vital for tissue growth and cell function. It is especially important for pregnant women to get enough Vitamin B9 in their diet.
- Anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, which help relieve arthritis pain
What Antioxidants are Found in Tomatoes?
Antioxidants fight cells known as free radicals, which float through the body causing illness and damaging healthy cells. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants in the body, the resulting bodily stress is linked to numerous health conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.
Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which studies have shown to have many positive health benefits. According to Healthline.com, lycopene:
- Believed to prevent lung, stomach, cervical, prostate, pancreatic, throat, mouth, and breast cancer
- Credited with slowing progression in breast and prostate cancer patients by slowing the growth of tumors (according to a 2016 issue of Tumour Biology, as accessed on PubMed.gov)
- Promotes heart health by lowering LDL (also known as bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (a.k.a. good cholesterol). Also prevents blood clots
- Reduces likelihood of prematurely dying of heart disease
- Believed to protect against UV rays in sunlight
- May protect your brain from memory loss
- May improve your eyesight
- May reduce pain caused by nerve and tissue damage
According to a 2020 study, men who regularly consume tomatoes (daily or almost daily) have a 28% lower risk of developing prostate cancer than men who don’t, according to Cancer Causes ; Control.
How Should I Prepare Tomatoes for the Maximum Health Benefits?
Something to keep in mind is that cooked tomatoes are higher in lycopene than fresh tomatoes, and experts believe it’s because the cooking process breaks down the cell walls in the tomato and releases the lycopene in greater quantities.
Crushing or pureeing tomatoes breaks down the cell walls, so more lycopene is released. Also, since lycopene is soluble in fat, pairing your cooked tomatoes with cheese and olive oil will help your body better absorb the powerful antioxidant.
The tomatoes you usually find in the grocery store are typically picked too early, ensuring that they aren’t overripe for customers. This negatively affects flavor and the amount of healthy vitamins and antioxidants. To get the maximum health benefit, experts recommend buying locally grown tomatoes or even growing them yourself.