Tomatoes are well known and enjoyed around the world, making them one of the most popular and accessible vegetables around. They are extremely versatile and can be served in both savory and sweet dishes. They can be eaten raw or cooked and can be made into soups, juices and even alcoholic beverages, such as the Bloody Mary.
There are many interesting facts about tomatoes. There are around 25,000 varieties of tomatoes and they have a lot of medicinal properties including the ability to reduce cancer risks, improve cardiovascular health, lessen hypertension, regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They can also improve our skin, hair, nails and bones. Tomatoes have so many health benefits because they are rich in minerals and nutrients that are necessary for optimal well being. However, not many people are aware of these facts and it makes tomatoes one of the most underrated foods.
Read on to see how the following properties and benefits of tomatoes surprise you!
1. Tomatoes are good for our heart and circulation
Tomatoes contain a mineral called potassium which is necessary for optimal vein and muscle health. It can help reduce cholesterol and stabilise blood pressure. It also assists kidneys to filter the wastes in blood. Potassium levels in the body can be maintained by eating tomatoes and this will radically reduce the possibility of stroke and heart attack.
The amount of potassium in tomatoes varies, depending on the quality and size of the tomato you pick. To absorb the largest amount of potassium from tomatoes, you should eat them raw. You can either dice tomatoes for salads, slice them up for sandwiches or blend them into a refreshing juice. Keeping tomatoes uncooked and combining them with other fresh ingredients, you do not only enjoy delicious meals but also have sufficient daily potassium intake.
2. Tomatoes make us feel and look good
Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and beta carotene. These antioxidants help prevent irreparable damage of cells caused by free radicals. The relationship between antioxidants and free radicals is crucial to good health and well being.
Apart from making us feel healthier, tomatoes also make us look more attractive. For example, tomatoes can keep our hair shiny and strong, maintain good eye health and allow our skin to stay glowing. Eat them raw or use them directly on your skin with the flesh side down, as the Florida Tomato Committee recommends. It may cause some redness on our skin at first, but this is not serious and will not last long.
3. Tomatoes boost the health of teeth and bones as we age
The human body contains copious amounts of calcium. Around 1% of calcium is used for the metabolic functions of our veins, muscles and nervous system. The other 99% is stored in our bones and teeth and can be lost dramatically as we age. Calcium is absorbed and removed from bones and teeth at different rates depending on how old we are.
“Bone itself undergoes continuous remodeling, with constant resorption and deposition of calcium into new bone. The balance between bone resorption and deposition changes with age. Bone formation exceeds resorption in periods of growth in children and adolescents, whereas in early and middle adulthood both processes are relatively equal. In aging adults, particularly among postmenopausal women, bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss that increases the risk of osteoporosis over time.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health
Other than drinking milk, eating tomatoes can help strengthen your bones and teeth as they are a great source of calcium too! The amount of calcium in tomatoes depends on how they are consumed, but this can be easily calculated. It appears that sun-dried tomatoes contain the highest levels of calcium.
4. Tomatoes reduce the risk of cancer
Tomatoes contain a red pigment called Lycopene. Lycopene is found in a lot of red fruits and vegetables and also in some that are not actually red like asparagus and parsley. It occurs naturally in the human body and is found in the liver, blood, adrenal glands, lungs, prostate, colon, and skin. Eating foods like tomatoes that contain Lycopene helps boost the quality and quantity of the pigment in those areas of the body and can assist in the prevention of cell damage that can possibly turn into cancer.
Research has shown that consuming Lycopene-rich tomatoes can help to prevent cancer occurring in prostate, lung and stomach without bringing any adverse effects to the body. To extract the optimum levels of Lycopene from tomatoes, it is best to consume them when they are cooked and combined with a little fat. Tomato soup is unquestionably one of the greatest options you should consider!
5. Tomatoes are a great help to diabetics
Chromium is the mineral found in tomatoes that causes insulin spike and therefore regulates your blood sugar level. It is a beneficial property aiding in the prevention and management of diabetes. When you consume a diet high in carbohydrates, your blood tend to absorb most of the sugar in the diet. Luckily, studies have shown that chromium can reduce the risk of diseases arising from high sugar consumption. Canadian doctor Ben Kim says that chromium in food:
“Helps to regulate your blood sugar level by enhancing the effects of insulin
Helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, including type II diabetes, through its effect on insulin
Helps your body make protein, fats, and cholesterol through its effect on insulin”
He also lists the types of foods that contain chromium, including tomatoes, and the recommended daily intake of chromium for each age group.
6. Tomatoes can repair the damage done by smoking
Tomatoes contain coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, which can help repair the damage caused by carcinogens in cigarettes. Like many of the other properties found in tomatoes, chlorogenic acid is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and prevent cancer.
Try the following 5 recipes to get the best out of tomatoes.
Featured photo credit: Valentyn Volkov via shutterstock.com