Despite technically being a fruit, the tomato is generally classified as a vegetable. Tomatoes are the main dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene , which has been linked to many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

You should know: Known scientifically as Solanum lycopersicum , the tomato is the berry of a plant in the nightshade family, native to South America. Also, there are many subspecies of tomatoes , with different shapes and flavors.

Also, tomato contains multiple properties and is a great source of  vitamin C ,  potassium , folic acid and  vitamin K , which mainly helps protect the heart. Its flavor can vary between acid, citric and sweet depending on the variety of this food.

They are usually red when ripe, but can be a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, green, and purple.

Tomato properties

The water content of   tomatoes is around 95% . The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates,  fiber , vitamins and minerals. A medium-sized tomato (100 grams) contains only 18 calories.

The table below contains detailed information, according to data provided by Self magazine (1) , about the nutrients found per 100 grams of tomatoes, red, ripe and raw:

  • Calories: 18.
  • Water: 95%
  • Protein: 0.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9g
  • Sugar: 2.6g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Sodium: 7.5mg
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Saturated: 0.03g
  • Monounsaturated: 0.03 g
  • Polyunsaturated: 0.08 g
  • Omega-6: 0.08g

As for carbohydrates, these make up 4% of raw tomatoes, which is equivalent to less than 5 grams of carbohydrates for an average size tomato (123 grams).

Simple sugars, such as glucose and  fructose , make up almost 70% of the carbohydrate content.

Note: Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, providing approximately 1.5 grams for an average-sized tomato. Most of the fibers (87%) in tomatoes are insoluble , in the form of hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.

1. Vitamins

Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins that mainly strengthen the immune system and benefit the function of the other systems that make up the body, such as vitamin C, vitamin K and folic acid, in the following amounts:

  • Vitamin C:  21% RDA
  • Vitamin K1:  10%
  • Folate (B9):  4%

2. Minerals

Within the properties of tomato, minerals are scarce, however, it is considered a source of potassium , containing 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of said mineral, it also has:

  • Phosphorus: 2% RDA
  • Iron: 2% RDA
  • Magnesium: 3% RDA
  • Manganese: 6% RDA

3. Other compounds

The content of vitamins and plant compounds depends on the tomato variety and sampling periods. The main plant compound in tomatoes is lycopene, they also contain beta-carotene, naringenin, and chlorogenic acid . 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 effects on health.
  • Beta-carotene:  A yellow antioxidant that is converted to  vitamin A  in the body.
  • 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.

Note: Chlorophylls and carotenoids are responsible for the color of tomatoes. When the ripening process begins, chlorophyll (green) is degraded and carotenoids (red) are synthesized.

What are the health benefits of tomatoes?

Consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products has been linked to many benefits related to: heart disease, cancer prevention , skin health, and sunburn.

This is because the benefits of tomato are derived from its properties, especially from the antioxidants it contains thanks to its high content of vitamin C , it is also a fruit rich in water and potassium , thus making its nutritional value delay aging , help lose weight, strengthen bones and be, in general, a good ally to keep you healthy.

In this sense, below you will learn about the benefits of tomato for health , so you will want to include this food regularly in your diet.

1. Prevents cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are the most common cause of death in the world. For its part, low levels of lycopene and beta-carotene in the blood are related to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Increasing evidence from clinical trials shows that lycopene supplementation is effective in  lowering LDL , the “bad” cholesterol. (two)

Note: Clinical trials of tomato products have also shown benefits against inflammation and markers of oxidative stress.

They also show a protective effect on the inner layer of blood vessels and may decrease the risk of blood clotting.

2. Boosts the immune system

The immune system plays a fundamental role in keeping the body healthy as it is the one that prevents and also fights the different viruses and bacteria that are attacking the body.

For its part, within the properties of tomato, its high content of vitamin C stands out, standing at 833 IU of said component, which is why it provides a good amount of antioxidants that reinforce the immune system and prevents it from contracting diseases, thus maintaining to the healthy organism in a natural way. (3)

3. Reduces the risk of strokes

Lycopene is in charge of naturally providing the bright red color to the tomato , but beyond that, the tomato contains this compound that provides multiple benefits to the body.

Important: In a study published in the journal Neurology , it was found that “Elevated serum concentrations of lycopene, as a marker of the intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products, decrease the risk of stroke or ischemic stroke in men ” . (4)

Likewise, the researchers point out that these tomato properties can be obtained by consuming raw tomatoes in salads, cooked in sauces, according to people’s preferences.

4. Improves visual health

In addition to containing vitamin C and a large number of antioxidants within its properties, tomatoes also provide lutein and zeaxanthin, these compounds are responsible for strengthening and improving eye health. (5)

Likewise, it reduces the negative effect that sunlight has on the eyesight of many people with eye structures sensitive to sunlight, so eating tomatoes regularly provides visual protection in a natural way.

5. Promotes intestinal transit

Among the properties of this fruit, one of the most outstanding is its quality of being rich in water , likewise the varieties of this food also provide fiber , an important component for gastrointestinal health. (6)

This is because the combination of water and fiber makes the colon, along with the other organs that make up the gastric system, work correctly to promote bowel movements and combat constipation.

6. Eliminate fluid retention

Fluid retention is a condition that can appear as a symptom associated with multiple diseases , however it is very common for it to appear in people with excessive weight, who suffer from bones and joints, among other conditions.

To highlight: The tomato has the virtue of being a diuretic, as detailed by Dr. Jorge D. Pamplona,  ​​in his book “The medicinal power of food” (7) , ensuring that the tomato increases urination and in turn cleanses the veins, arteries and other conduits that make up the body, from free radicals and toxins.

Therefore, it favors the reduction of fluid retention and relieves the inflammation caused by it.

7. Improves skin health

Tomato is considered beneficial for different problems associated with the skin. Tomato-based foods rich in lycopene and other plant compounds may protect against sunburn. (8)

Note: Being rich in antioxidants, it naturally improves the tissues and cells that are dying daily in the skin.

Noting that its consumption can be cooked or raw , one of the most important parts of eating tomato is that in addition to being low in calories, its flavor is unique and very versatile to complement.

8. Prevents some types of cancer

Cancer is a generic term for the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that spread beyond their normal limits, often invading other parts of the body.

Notable : Observational studies have found links between tomatoes, tomato products, and lower incidences of prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. (9)

The high lycopene content is believed to be the main reason for these protective effects, but high-quality human trials are needed to confirm this.

Additionally, high concentrations of carotenoids, found in large amounts in tomatoes, may protect against the development of breast cancer .

What are the possible risks of tomato consumption?

The tomato is very safe to consume in large quantities, the possible problems depend more on how it has been harvested , it is worth mentioning that some people may be allergic to tomatoes.

Note: Another important point to deal with is that you must be careful when consuming tomatoes together with the seeds , since this could eventually cause appendicitis. It is advisable to extract as many seeds as possible before consuming tomatoes.

On the other hand, although tomato allergy is rare, it most often causes allergic reactions in individuals allergic to grass pollen.

This condition is called pollen allergy syndrome or oral allergy syndrome . In oral allergy syndrome, the immune system attacks fruit and vegetable proteins that are similar to pollen, causing allergic reactions such as an itchy mouth, itchy throat, or swelling of the mouth or throat.

You should know: People with a latex allergy may also experience some reactions to tomatoes.

Despite tomatoes and tomato-based products being some of the most widely consumed foods in the Western diet, tomato allergies are extremely rare.

An individual with a tomato allergy is also prone to allergic reactions to other types of cultivated foods, such as potatoes, tobacco, and eggplant.

Key Findings

  • The tomato is a fruit of intense red color , with an acid, sweet and citric flavor according to its different varieties.
  • It contains a large amount of water, vitamin C, lycopene , antioxidants, potassium and fiber.
  • Regular tomato consumption can help prevent diseases , decreases the risk of cancer, as well as being a natural diuretic and cleanser.
  • Allergies to tomatoes are rare, however its consumption without seeds is recommended.

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