Tomato juice has long been a staple in Western and international cuisine. This colorful drink is nutrient-rich and low in calories and fat. In fact, tomato juice provides several key nutrients that your body requires to function properly. Tomato juice offers good sources of various vitamins and antioxidants.
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Tomato juice is made by heating, crushing and simmering tomatoes. To maintain nutrition, tomatoes are usually boiled first to inactivate enzymes that decrease vitamin C and other nutrients when tomatoes are crushed. While some foods lose their nutrient content when cooked or juiced, the heating process actually boosts certain of tomatoes' properties. The lycopene in tomato juice is more bioavailable than it is in fresh tomatoes, thanks to the heat and oil used to produce juice.
Tomatoes provide a good source of vitamins A and C. Canned and bottled tomato juice is often fortified, increasing the levels of vitamins. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that 1/2 cup of tomato juice provides 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 35 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. This nutrient-rich beverage also contains B vitamins, potassium and fiber.
One of the biggest selling features of many health juices is that they are packed full of antioxidants. Tomato juice in particular is rich in beta carotene and lycopene. Lycopene is responsible for a tomato's deep red color and has been linked to decreasing the risk of heart disease and some types of cancers. This powerful antioxidant and phytonutrient defends your body from free radicals, which can cause damage to cells. A 2012 study by the American Academy of Neurology also found that high serum concentrations of lycopene from tomato and tomato-based products decreased the risk of stroke and ischemic stroke in men.
While tomato juice offers many health benefits, it also has a drawback: sodium. Sodium assists in nerve functioning and regulating blood pressure, but ingesting too much can easily throw these figures into chaos and cause health problems ranging from high blood pressure to heart disease. Choose reduced-sodium varieties of tomato juice, and check labels to make sure you are choosing 100 percent tomato juice products.