Tomatoes are not only a delicious food that are part of so many of our favourite meals. They are also one of the most undervalued superfoods around. They are considered a ‘functional food’, which means a food that goes beyond providing basic nutrition. And it’s no wonder, tomatoes have quite a resume. They are vitamin and nutrient packed and it is suggested they can help prevent and fight heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases. They are also thought to do wonders for skin and hair.
The list of vitamins and minerals in tomatoes is a long one. They provide our bodies with vitamins A, K, B1,B3, B5, B6, B7 and a huge dose of vitamin C. In addition, important minerals, such as folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, chromium, choline, zinc and phosphorous, are found in tomatoes.
So, here are 10 reasons to include tomatoes in your daily diet:
Many studies have been carried out using tomatoes in the diet and the varied results are astounding. Time and time again studies have shown that chemicals contained in tomatoes are hugely beneficial for heart health.
Tomato juice, because of it’s various phytonutrients, can reduce the risk of blood clots. The fibre, potassium, vitamin C and choline in tomatoes are all proven to support heart health. An increase in one’s potassium intake, interestingly, is thought to be as effective in reducing cardiovascular disease as a reduction in sodium(salt) intake. This is due to the fact that potassium reduces blood pressure.
One phytonutrient in tomatoes, which is mentioned repeatedly in preventing and combatting various illnesses and diseases, is lycopene. A study in the Harvard Health Letter suggests that a tomato-filled diet can help prevent stroke, due to the high lycopene content in tomatoes.
Blood Health (Diabetes)
In the fight against diabetes, lycopene has a serious role to play. Studies suggest that lycopene in tomatoes can help to restore biochemical balance in diabetics. Tomatoes are a good source of fibre, which has also been proven to help both type 1 and type two diabetes. For type 1, tests showed high-fibre consumption resulted in reduced blood sugar levels, and for type two, improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels were observed.
Tomatoes, which are high in various antioxidants, can strengthen bones by promoting a healthy ratio of calcium in the body. In addition to antioxidants helping bone strength, the rich lycopene content in tomatoes can help protect against the risk of a woman developing osteoporosis.
Prevention of Cancer
Many studies have been carried out with tomatoes and tomato extract that have shown anti-cancer benefits. This is because tomatoes are rich in many antioxidants that rid the body from cancer-causing toxins, free radicals and carcinogens. Tomatoes also have anti-inflammatory properties that can combat chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which can develop into various cancers.
The antioxidant-rich fruit has been studied in relation to oxidative stress, and it was found that this can have a huge impact on various diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases.
Healthy Skin & Hair
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin K, which has been proven to have significant benefits for healthy hair and skin. It is said to help with the growth and strength of hair as well as improving its appearance and texture. Tomatoes have been proven to improve the appearance of skin, in addition to fighting acne and preventing the damage of skin cells.
Lycopene & Cooking
Studies have been carried out on the effects heating and cooking tomatoes have on the chemical properties of tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are a better source of vitamin C, as the cooking process eliminates much of the vitamin. However, it has been found that the lycopene levels are dramatically raised by heating and cooking tomatoes. This is great news, as this beneficial phytochemical has been proven to prevent and fight cancer, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Lycopene is what gives tomatoes a rich red colour, and is thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all of the carotenoids.
So, it’s a no-brainer… get some tomatoes into your daily diet. They are nutritious, colourful and widely available. Whether your tomatoes are whole, chopped, cooked or made into a sauce, this disease-fighting superfood can inject delicious flavour to almost any dish!
Medical News Daily (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273031.php)
The World’s Healthiest Foods (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44)