The benefits and properties of tomatoes are wide: it is an antioxidant, prevents cardiovascular disease, prevents cancer, reduces asthma symptoms…
It is one of the most cultivated and consumed plants in the world, but we do not know the extent of its healthy properties.
Tomatoes, whose scientific name is Solanum lycopersicon , is a vegetable (although many doubt whether it is a fruit or a vegetable) belonging to the Solanaceae family. It is an annual crop that grows at ground level or even erect.
In terms of production volume, it is considered the main fruit vegetable in the world and is widely consumed as either a fresh or processed product, pasta, juice, dehydrated and countless other commercial presentations.
Statistics say that China (it’s so huge in fact), the United States, Turkey, Italy and India, the total annual production is estimated at around 160 million tonnes and per capita consumption is 18 kilograms per year for Europeans and 8 kilograms for the US population.
What is interesting? In addition to excellent taste
In medical research lines, its characteristics have been deeply studied and especially the healthy properties of one of its primary components; lycopene.
This is because frequent consumption of tomatoes has been associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic degenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and others). This could be due to the abundant presence of various types of antioxidant compounds, such as carotenoids and in particular the above-mentioned lycopene.
What is Lycopene?
It is neither more nor less than a lipophilic pigment, which gives the red color characteristic of tomatoes and, to a lesser extent, other fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya and damask. This pigment is very stable in tomatoes, but extracted and purified tends to be very unstable (for example, its presentation in capsules).
Fresh tomatoes provide 90% of the lycopene necessary for the body, because it is a micronutrient that is not synthesized by the human body, but must be obtained from food.
Lycopene concentration in tomatoes
In general, lycopene accumulates in the fruit of tomatoes from its immature state, growing significantly as it matures. The lycopene content may also vary depending on the variety, growing conditions and harvesting factors.
8 Health benefits of tomatoes
1. Antioxidant properties
Starting we need to know what is an antioxidant? Simply put, it is a compound that prevents the harmful effects of free radicals in our body.
Tomato lycopene acts by activating enzymes that are important for the elimination of foreign substances and generally harmful to health. Great interest in favor of tomato consumption.
2. Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases include, for example; hypertension, diabetes mellitus, arteriosclerosis or heart failure. Tomatoes, and especially their regular consumption, play a very important role in its prevention through platelet activity (prevents clots), protection of vessel walls (prevents excessive thickness or stiffness) and resistance to oxidation of the known “bad cholesterol” LDL.
3. Cancer prevention
Cancer is a disease with a high incidence and prevalence worldwide, which is characterized by inadequate proliferation of certain cells in our body, which begin to divide without stopping and spreading to other tissues.
Tomatoes, specifically lycopene, can help reduce levels of cell proliferation by activating a process called apoptosis, which is responsible for the death or selective elimination of cells that should be discarded due to their danger.
Among the many types of cancer that have been studied in connection with the consumption of tomatoes as a preventive measure, the best results have been achieved with cancer of the bladder, prostate and stomach. You will understand that a lot of research is still being done due to the huge unpredictability of the topic.
4. Reduction of asthma symptoms
Do you suffer from asthma? Or someone from your family? This disease is characterized by its chronic difficulty in repelling inspired air, which often triggers a respiratory crisis, especially in winter or in connection with environmental emergencies.
In this sense, tomato lycopene has been shown to reduce the intensity of acute airway inflammation by intensive treatment with this product, which to some extent improves respiratory function.
5. Antifungal effect
What relationship will they have? Among the numerous associations that have been found are the antifungal effects of tomatoes (especially lycopene), which can promote the treatment of infections through the selective destruction of the cell membrane.
Consumption of tomatoes can therefore kill various types of fungi that usually colonize humans (e.g. Candida albicans) and which are usually completely resistant to some conventional treatments depending on their nature.
6. Boiled tomato
It is good to consume it in salads and snacks, but also cooked tomato is very functional, because lycopene has the highest bioavailability (it is better used in our body)
When exposed to high cooking temperatures, it has its best health effects, fulfilling its antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. Baked tomato is a good choice or even better fish baked with tomatoes.
7. Tomato skin
Although these vegetables are usually peeled, there is no scientifically proven reason to suggest or encourage the avoidance of peeling, for which it should only be on the basis of personal criteria (there is nothing written in the flavors).
In fact, the shell has much of the nutritional properties of the pulp and is very important for some culinary preparations such as tomato stuffed with tuna.
As a tip, if you don’t use the shell, you can sort it into the trash or use it.
8. Tomato powder
As in many foods, the tomato did not escape to be converted to its powder version (dehydrated tomato). The main benefits of a powder product are protection (lasts much longer than natural), transport (cheaper) and practicality so that it can be used at any time in any situation or circumstance.
Heat treatment of tomatoes can affect some of its nutrients, but not in a significant way. In my opinion, if you supplement it with the consumption of natural tomatoes, there is no problem in its regular use.
More tomatoes and less scrap
Consumption of fruits, vegetables and unfortunately is declining and is being replaced by snacks or fast food, which is called “junk food” and which helps keep the disease in the hospital every day.
Try to teach your children to enjoy the benefits of tomatoes and other vegetables. Its color is attractive, its taste as well and can be borrowed for many interventions with really didactic dishes for children.
From proverbs to fact, now we present simple options for including tomatoes in your diet throughout the day:
- Breakfast Tomatoes with scrambled eggs, tomatoes with ham, tomatoes with cheese, tomatoes with garlic.
- Salads : Tomatoes with onions, tomatoes with coriander, tomatoes with mustard, tomatoes with chia.
- Lunch or dinner Baked tomatoes, stuffed tomatoes, tomato chicken, tomato cream, baked pippin with tomatoes.
Its more forms of consumption
Although tomatoes are generally consumed fresh (for example in salads), their wide range of processed products and derivatives can vary considerably in their nutritional composition.
To show you this, we tell you that tomatoes lose a high proportion of ascorbic acid during harvest, storage and transport. On the other hand, heat treatment (about 130 degrees Celsius) of tomato pulp improves the bioavailability of lycopene and other bioactive compounds.