Most of us enjoy tomatoes in some form or the other — raw, sauce, roasted, soup, juice, and more. The vegetable also boasts of variety when it comes to associated health benefits.
1. Benefits related to heart health
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes which gives the vegetable its red color. Though it is not an essential nutrient, research has linked lycopene to many heart-related benefits.
Aside from slowing down blood pressure, it may help reduce levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. One study of men from Finland linked high lycopene consumption to a lowered risk of suffering stroke. In addition, animal research has indicated that lycopene can limit the severity of damage caused by heart attacks.
2. Protective against eye problems
Antioxidants in tomatoes — not only lycopene but also lutein and beta-carotene — can preserve your eyesight by protecting against the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. They can also reduce damage to vision caused by light.
If that was not enough, tomatoes are also a source of vitamin A, a key nutrient for better eye health. According to All About Vision, a deficiency of the vitamin can lead to damage of the retina and drying of the cornea. Over a long period, both effects can speed up the onset of blindness.
3. Boosting good bacteria in the gut
Here is a reason to feel a little less guilty the next time you indulge in pasta or pizza. This year, a study from Spain examined interactions between antioxidants and gut bacteria. The findings suggested that tomato sauce could improve the activity of probiotics in our gut.
“We worked with raw and fried tomato to determine the impact of processing,” said senior researcher Ana Belén Heredia. “And among the results, we found that serving meals rich in probiotics with fried tomato sauce boosts its probiotic effect.”
4. Superfood for the diabetic diet
The American Diabetes Association recommends tomatoes as a “superfood” to include in a daily eating plan. “The good news is that no matter how you like your tomatoes, pureed, raw, or in a sauce, you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium,” the ADA stated.
The low GI ranking of tomatoes is a major reason for the diabetes-oriented recommendation. In other words, they are digested slowly, which means that blood glucose levels will experience a slow rise.
5. Lowered risk of prostate cancer
Over the years, many observational studies have found an association between tomatoes and prostate cancer risk. One British study suggested that men who eat over 10 portions of tomatoes a week could have a 20 percent lower likelihood of developing the disease.
“Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention,” said Vanessa Er of Bristol University. Nevertheless, the researchers stressed that men should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables rather than depending on a few specific ones.