I have heard different stories about tomatoes, which is why I am making this post about the health benefits of eating tomatoes daily.
In the past, tomatoes were believed to be poisonous to humans, but we all consume tomatoes today because we’ve read or heard about its health benefits. But just a few weeks ago, someone told me tomatoes are actually bad for our health and he is no more eating tomatoes. I laughed and asked him tomatoes are good.
When I got home, I brought out my laptop, connected to the internet and started researching his claim. Well, what I found amazed me but after concluding the research, I was less amazed. Why? Let’s get into the whole thing.
Native to western South America, the tomato is often mistaken as a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit. It is also known as Solanum lycopersicum and you can find it in supermarkets and farmers markets because it is grown around the world.
From plum tomatoes to cherry tomatoes and beefsteak, you can eat a tomato in different ways including cooked and raw. People often add it to pasta dishes, drinks, pizzas and salads. But are tomatoes actually good for your health and should you be eating them daily? I’ve got you covered here!
Tomato is a major dietary source of the antioxidant called lycopene. This lycopene is linked to several health benefits like reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. It is also one of the great sources of potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C and folate.
When they mature, they are usually red, but can also come in different colors like green, purple, yellow and orange.
Tomato nutrition facts
#1. Fiber and carbohydrate
There is around 95% water in tomatoes, while the remaining 5% consists mainly of fiber and carbohydrates.
A medium sized tomato (123g) contains just 22 calories. Check the table below.
#2. Vitamins and minerals
You can get many minerals and vitamins in the tomato. They include:
- Vitamin C which is a great nutrient and antioxidant. With a medium sized tomato, you can get around 28% of the recommended daily intake.
- Potassium, which is great for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure control.
- Foliate (B9), which is essential for tissue growth and cell function. This is great for pregnant women.
- Vitamin K1, which is vital for bone health and blood coagulation.
#3. Other plant compounds
Tomatoes contain different plant compounds including:
- Beta-Carotene: the antioxidant which your body can convert into a vitamin A.
- Lycopene: the antioxidant and red pigment which research has shown to be great for your health.
- Chlorogenic acid lowers blood pressure.
- Naringenin: decreases inflammation.
Lycopene is the most important plant compound in tomatoes. It is majorly found in the ripened tomato peel. The redder the tomato, the more the lycopene.
Health benefits of eating tomatoes daily
Eating tomatoes and products made with tomatoes will provide you a lot of health benefits including reduced risks of cancer, heart disease and skin disease. Here are some of the health benefits of eating tomatoes daily:
The most common health problems that can quickly lead to death are strokes and heart attacks. Research showed that low blood levels of beta-carotene and lycopene are linked to increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Tomatoes have vitamin C, choline, fiber and potassium that support heart health. The most essential dietary change anyone needs to reduce cardiovascular disease risk is to increase the intake of potassium and reduce the intake of sodium.
The presence of folate in tomato also helps balance homocysteine levels. Homocysteine increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks. So you need to manage homocysteine levels to reduce the risk of heart disease by taking more folate.
Evidence showed that lycopene supplementation is good at lowering LDL cholesterol. Research has also shown that it also prevents inflammation and oxidative stress.
Cancer is not a cool problem because it is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that spread beyond their real boundaries.
Although we are yet to see enough evidence, observational studies found links between tomatoes and some incidences of prostate, stomach and lung cancers.
The presence of high lycopene content is believed to be the major reason for the protective effects, but we still need more human trials to confirm this.
Low sodium intake helps maintain healthy blood pressure. However, you may need to increase potassium intake to widen the effects on arteries. According to NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Survey), about 2% of the US adults meet the recommended daily (4,700mg) intake of potassium.
So taking tomatoes daily can help you maintain healthy blood pressure.
Tomatoes are beneficial for your skin health. The lycopene and other plant compounds in tomato can protect you against sunburn.
Consuming diet with more fiber and water content, such as tomatoes, may support healthy bowel movements and hydration.
Research has shown that people with type 1 diabetes who take high-fiber diets have low blood glucose levels.
Tomatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene, which are powerful antioxidants that help protect the eye.
It makes sense to take adequate folate before and during pregnancy to avoid neural tube defects in infants.
Although it is recommended that pregnant women take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are the natural source of folate.
Side effects of tomatoes (health effects of eating ray tomatoes)
Here is where what a friend said is proven to be true. Tomatoes actually have side effects, especially when taking raw. Here are some of the reasons you might want to stop eating tomatoes:
#1. Heartburn/acid reflux
Tomatoes are acidic and may cause heartburn. The presence of citric and malic acids in tomatoes can make your stomach produce excessive gastric acids. When excessive acids are produced, it can flow up the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Tomatoes may also trigger a reflux.
#2. Allergies and infections
A Polish study showed that tomato contains histamine that causes allergic reactions, especially when taken raw. A tomato allergy often occurs immediately the fruit is taken. Its allergies include coughing, eczema, sneezing, skin rashes, hives, itching sensation in the throat, etc.
#3. Kidney issues
The US Department of Health and Human Services says, anyone with advanced chronic kidney disease should limit potassium intake, mineral tomatoes are rich in.
You can deal with kidney disease by avoiding diet with too much water and potassium content, which tomatoes are parts of.
If you are suffering from tomato intolerance, you may have diarrhea. Tomatoes are acidic and greasy and must be avoided during diarrhea.
#5. Irritable bowel syndrome
Because of the tomatoes irritating seeds and skins, it may cause irritable bowel syndrome, especially when taken raw. Tomatoes can also trigger bloating if you are suffering from IBS.
#6. Excessive sodium
When you are buying tomato sauce, make sure you choose one with lower sodium because most sauces are high in sodium.
#7. Body aches
Your immune system may react to proteins in tomatoes (histamine), which may cause joint pains and swelling.
The alkaloid (solanine) in tomatoes can also build calcium in the tissues and cause inflammation. Tomatoes can even trigger arthritis conditions and cause pain.
#8. Urinary issues
Tomato is an acidic food which can irritate the bladder and cause urinary incontinence.
#9. Respiratory issues
If you are allergic to tomatoes, it may be hard for you to breathe.
#10. Acute gastrointestinal upset
Tomatoes can cause acute stomach upset if you are already suffering from heartburn or acid reflux because they are highly acidic. They can also make your stomach produce more acid that can lead to an acute gastrointestinal upset.
With all these side effects, it makes sense to eat tomatoes moderately.
How many tomatoes should you eat?
One serving of cooked tomatoes a day is enough (2 tomatoes). Ideally, you should consume 22mg of lycopene a day. There is 27 mg of lycopene in two tablespoons of tomato puree. But cherry tomatoes contain more lycopene than the large ones.
It makes sense to eat canned tomatoes rather than fresh ones because lycopene is better absorbed in processed products like tinned tomatoes and baked beans.
Tomatoes are sweet and juicy, full of antioxidants and may help improve some health conditions.
The most important content of a tomato is lycopene, which has been linked to protection against sunburns, improved heart health, cancer prevention, etc.
However, consuming raw tomato is not advisable because of several side effects. It also makes sense to consume tomatoes moderately to avoid any side effects. Too much of anything is actually bad!