Tomato's The Secret Health Food

Say the word tomato what comes to mind? BLT, salad toppings, catsup, juice, soup, spaghetti and pizza sauces. While they are versatile and add great taste to our foods, this fruit is known as a functional food. Meaning that this is a food that has more than just a basic nutrition, it is also a food that has added health benefits such as helping to prevent chronic diseases along with other health benefits. One medium sized tomato has less than 25 calories, providing 1.5 grams of fiber, low in fat and carbs but rich in vitamins. The list includes Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, Potassium, and Folate.

Vitamin C. is an antioxidant, an essential nutrient that helps our bodies prevent damage from the sun, pollution, smoke. It will help smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture. Vitamin C helps prevent the common cold, bronchitis, acne, gum disease, infections of the bladder and prostate .A medium tomato will provide you with about 28 % of the recommended daily intake.

Vitamin K is crucial for cardiovascular health. Clinical studies support that vitamin K can even lower calcification of the arteries caused by vitamin K deficiency. One more vitamin K-dependent protein that was found is matrix Gla protein. When found in your vascular system it is a very strong inhibitor of calcification, keeping arteries from hardening.

Potassium A cup of tomato juice contains 534 milligrams of potassium, Diets high in potassium are associated with improved blood pressure control. There are several reasons which contribute to this beneficial effect, including improved reduction in blood clotting, kidney function,and more efficient opening of blood vessels.

Folate (B9): Helps use amino acids, the building structure of proteins. Assists in forming new blood cells in the bone marrow, increase cell growth in infants, works with other vitamins to reduce chronic heart disease and helps prevent tiredness and fatigue.

Here is a list of the main plant compounds in tomatoes.

Lycopene: A red pigment and antioxidant, which has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects. Research has shown that eating foods high in lycopene protects against a wide range of cancers, from skin cancers, oesophagus, prostate cancer and even breast cancers and lung cancer. A study from The University of Montreal researchers found that lycopene (provided mainly by tomatoes) was linked to a 31% reduction in pancreatic cancer risk. Other studies states the risk of prostate cancer can be reduced up to 30-40 percent when high intakes of tomatoes or lycopene are consumed. While very high in lycopene another hidden benefit is 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid researchers at Kyoto University in Japan recently found that it helps lower LDL cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream.The rule of thumb is, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains

Beta-Carotene: A yellow antioxidant, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. vitamin A is needed for healthy skin, our immune system, mucus membranes and good eye health and vision. Research studies suggest that dietary intake of foods high in Beta-carotene has a positive decreased in risk of cardiovascular disease as well as those in the oral cavity and lungs.

Naringenin: Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to decrease inflammation and protect against various diseases in mice.

Chlorogenic acid: A powerful antioxidant compound, which may lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.

The great taste along with the health benefits of eating a tomato should make it a reason to include it in your meals. While a slice or two on a sandwich makes it taste better, it may not be enough to maximize the nutrition levels that you need. The good news is that you get the same benefit from anything that has tomatoes in it: juices, catsup, pasta sauces, and salsa, which all provide the vitamins needed for a healthier lifestyle. Enjoy them for their great taste, enjoy them for their nutritional value and enjoy them for a healthier life.


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