Whether you pronounce it "tomato or "tomäto," there's no question that tomatoes are a legitimate superfood. Packed with antioxidants, dietary fiber and vitamins, tomatoes are one food that should be on every health-conscious person's eating plan. From reducing prostate cancer risk to helping you shed excess pounds, tomatoes have a number of important health benefits.
All colorful vegetables contain antioxidants -- special compounds that prevent cancerous cells from forming. Tomatoes are rich in a unique antioxidant known as lycopene. Lycopene in tomatoes greatly reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer, reports the January 2002 "Journal of the National Cancer Institute." Regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato products such as pasta sauce was associated with a 15 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk.
Tomatoes and other fresh vegetables are naturally low-calorie choices that can assist in weight loss. Tomatoes are also rich in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can help keep appetite under wraps while dieting. Consider adding tomatoes to low-calorie foods such as chili, salad and grilled mixed vegetables.
Vitamin C is an important part of a healthy immune system. Adults require 75 mg of vitamin C per day to optimize their immune system and overall health, the Office of Dietary Supplements reports. A single 1-cup serving of chopped tomatoes contains more than 25 g of vitamin C, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states.
Vegetables are an important part of a heart-healthy diet because they help reduce cholesterol and keep blood sugars in a healthy range. The May 2007 "Singapore Medical Journal" reports that the antioxidants in tomatoes are especially good at stopping the damage to heart arteries that precedes plaque formation. The authors add that cooking tomatoes releases more of the antioxidants for the body to take in than raw tomatoes.
Osteoporosis is a common medical condition in older people that results in a significantly increased risk of bone fracture and disability. In addition to eating a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet, tomatoes may aid in strong bones, November 2010's "American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine" states. Lycopene and other antioxidants in tomatoes may shield bones from the damage that can contribute to low bone mass.
- "Journal of the National Cancer Institute"; A Prospective Study of Tomato Products, Lycopene, and Prostate Cancer Risk; E Giovannucci, et al.; January 2002
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Can eating fruits and vegetables help people to manage their weight?
- USDA: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16
- "Office of Dietary Supplements": Vitamin C
- "Singapore Medical Journal": Effect of Lycopene From Cooked Tomatoes on Serum Antioxidant Enzymes, Lipid Peroxidation rate and Lipid Profile in Coronary Heart Disease; K Bose, et al.; May 2007
- "American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine": Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits; B Freeman; November 2010