February is considered the month of love, so why not examine all things good that symbolise love?The French actually named it tomato d’amour, “love apple,” because of its believed aphrodisiac power. Whether or not this prophecy is true, there is a lot to love about the tomato.
According to an article published in Medical News Today, a tomato is considered to be a nutrient-dense superfood that offers benefit to a range of bodily systems. Its nutritional content supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health.
There are different types and sizes of tomato, and they can be prepared in different ways. The health benefits can vary between types. Eating a diet that contains large amounts of fruit and vegetables, is also linked to healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and lower weight. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.
Possible health benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. With these components, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals, which are known to cause cancer.
2) Blood pressure
Maintaining a low sodium intake helps to maintain healthful blood pressure. However, increasing potassium intake may be just as important due to its widening effects on the arteries.
3) Heart health
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health.
Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fibre diets have lower blood glucose levels, while people with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides about 2 grams (g) of fibre
Eating foods that are high in water content and fibre, such as tomatoes, may help hydration and support normal bowel movements. Tomatoes are often described as a laxative fruit.
6) Eye health
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene. These are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the eyes against light-induced damage, the development of cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Collagen is an essential component of the skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue. The production of collagen in the body is reliant on vitamin C.
Adequate folate intake is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants. While it is recommended that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are a great source of naturally-occurring folate.
One cup of chopped or sliced raw tomatoes contains:
- 32 calories(kcal)
- 14 g of water
- 58 g of protein
- 2 g of fibre
- 8 g of carbohydrate
- 0 g cholesterol
Tomatoes also have a wealth of vitamin and mineral content, including:
- 18 mg of calcium
- 427 mg of potassium
- 43 mg of phosphorus
- 7 mg of vitamin C
- 1499 international units (IU) of vitamin A
Tomatoes also contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including:
- alpha-lipoic acid
- folic acid
The cooking of tomatoes appears to increase the availability of key nutrients, such as the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Stewed tomatoes provide more lutein and zeaxanthin than sun-dried tomatoes and raw cherry tomatoes.
Tips on how to include tomatoes in your everyday diet:
- Cocktail tomatoes with a hummus dip
- Add sliced tomato to sandwiches and wraps
- Add diced, low-sodium canned tomatoes to homemade or jarred marinara sauces when making pasta
- Used canned, diced, or stewed tomatoes in soups
- Eat a piece of toast with avocado and tomato slices
- Make a quick salsa with diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno(optional) and freshly squeezed lime
- Dice fresh tomatoes and add them to omelettes or scrambles for breakfast
- Drizzle freshly sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella with balsamic vinegar, and top with chopped basil
Always remember to wash tomatoes before eating, as tomatoes are on the top ten list for the highest levels of pesticide residue, as published in the Environmental Working Group (EWG)