14 Amazing Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Every year my husband and I plant lots of tomatoes. I guess you could say we’re a bit addicted to growing and making droves of homemade tomato sauce, which we store in our pantry for the cooler months. A few years back we planted 18 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We had also just completed an intense long distance move. Our tomatoes were in the ground even before we opened most of the boxes, which may sound absurd to most people, but we wanted to be sure we didn’t miss out on a whole tomato season. Not only is the taste of organic, home-grown tomatoes superior to the commercial counterparts, they make better tomato sauce, too.

If you haven’t tried many of the heirloom varieties, I encourage you to do so. Not only are they beautiful, they’re delicious and packed with nutrition. And, now that genetically-modified tomatoes are fairly common, the heirloom, non-modified varieties are even more appealing. If you’re not already a tomato-lover, here are some reasons to start loving them now:

Decrease Blood Clumping

Exciting new research in the journal Archives of Medical Science found that an extract of tomatoes may be a great alternative to aspirin for people with high blood pressure or at a high risk of heart disease. The researchers found that the tomato extract stopped the clumping that typically occurs in the blood of people with heart disease, thereby keeping the blood healthier. The study participants who were obese and experiencing high blood pressure had the greatest results.

You’ll need to eat more than ketchup to take advantage of these health benefits. While the study did not indicate the equivalent amount of tomato you’d need to get to reap the benefits, strive to eat fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce on a daily basis to initiate the blood clean-up effects. And, of course, if your physician has prescribed aspirin for this purpose, do not discontinue the drug without their approval.

Protect the Blood

Due to their rich content of vitamins and carotenoids, along with potent healing phytonutrients known as flavonoids and lignans, research to be published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements later this year found that tomatoes have a protective effect against pollutants like excessive fluoride. Considering the widespread use of fluoride in our water supply, it’s a good idea to boost tomato consumption. Of course, it doesn’t replace water filtration.

Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Tomatoes are rich in a collection of phytonutrients called carotenoids. You’ve probably already heard of beta-carotene and lycopene, but there are others just as critical.  And exciting research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that eating higher amounts of carotenoids—including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and total carotenoids—reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Plentiful amounts of research, including a study in the journal Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, show that lycopene found in tomatoes helps to protect against prostate cancer.

Improve Diabetes

According to research in the journal Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, scientists created diabetic conditions in animals and fed some lycopene while others were fed their typical diet free of lycopene. The biochemistry of animals fed lycopene returned to normal while the others stayed at diabetic levels. This study shows promise that lycopene (found in tomatoes) can help restore biochemical balance in diabetics.

Prevent Stroke

Research in the journal Harvard Health Letter found that diets rich in tomatoes can help prevent stroke. The scientists chalk up the results to tomatoes’ rich lycopene content.

Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Research shows the lycopene found in tomatoes, when eaten regularly, can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown in research to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. They have also been shown to prevent clumping in the blood (known as platelet aggregation) which is a risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Reduce the Effects of Aging

They contain an important phytonutrient called lycopene that has been proven in studies to fight aging and have anti-cancer properties. It appears to be particularly effective against prostate and colon cancers.

Protect DNA

Recent research in the medical journal Environmental and Molecular Mutagenasis tomatoes and the lycopene found in them has the impressive ability to protect genetic material against damage, which may reduce the likelihood of disease.

Stimulate Fat-Burning

Great news! As long as you don’t pile on too much pasta and you choose a whole grain variety, that pasta dinner might actually help you to lose weight. That’s because tomatoes stimulate the production of the amino acid carnitine, which has been shown in research to speed the body’s fat-burning capacity by over 30 percent.

Boost the Immune System

Excellent sources of vitamin C and carotenoids, tomatoes can help keep your immune system strong against infections. That’s good news as we’re seeing the rise of superbugs these days.

Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment

Exciting new research in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that lycopene found in tomatoes helps to regulate bone cell production and bone loss, suggesting that lycopene and tomatoes may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of bone conditions like osteoporosis.

Boost Eye Health

Because tomatoes are a rich source of the phytonutrients beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, they can help improve vision and protect your eyes from degeneration.

Radiation Protection

Research that will be published later this year in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that oil in tomato seeds helps to protect against radiation. While this type of research is in its infancy and you’d need to eat a lot of tomato seeds to get sufficient tomato seed oil, it’s good to know that even in a small way, eating tomatoes with the seeds in them might be warding off some of the effects of radiation.

Get the Most Nutrition From Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be enjoyed in pasta, salads, soups, stews, wraps, curries and many of your favorite dishes. Some people claim that tomatoes should be eaten cooked for maximum nutritional value—that’s not the full story, however. While lycopene is best absorbed from cooked tomatoes, vitamin C and the enzymes found in tomatoes are best if eaten uncooked. Just adding a dash of olive oil on your raw tomatoes significantly increases the absorption of lycopene. Eating tomatoes in a variety of foods helps ensure the best nutrient absorption. Relish cooked tomatoes in soups, stews and curries. Enjoy raw ones in salads, sandwiches and salsas.

Research also shows that the form of lycopene found in yellow and orange tomatoes is better absorbed than from red tomatoes. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the red ones, but throw in some multi-colored heirloom tomatoes in the mix, too.

While lycopene supplements offer health benefits, research in the journal Advances in Nutrition shows that eating tomatoes is preferable to supplementation with lycopene, except for those with high blood pressure where the supplements were superior. Even if you choose to take lycopene supplements, it is always a good idea to eat tomatoes to benefit from their many other healing constituents.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet: 3 Weeks to Supercharge Your Health and Get Slim with Enzyme-Rich Foods.  Follow her work.

 

272 comments

Lisa M
Lisa M19 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M19 days ago

Thanks.

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Jack Y
Jack Y20 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y20 days ago

thanks

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Paulo R
Paulo R20 days ago

ty

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Diane Wayne
Diane Wayne20 days ago

interesting. cheers

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie22 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie22 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie22 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Karen Martinez
Karen Martinez22 days ago

Now I'm motivated to start up some tomato plants so they will be ready to plant outside once our heat index drops below 1000*! Thanks for the information.

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