Whether you refer to a tomato as a fruit or a vegetable, there is no doubt that a tomato is a nutrient-dense, super-food that most people should be eating more of.
The tomato has been referred to as a “functional food,” a food that goes beyond providing just basic nutrition, additionally preventing chronic disease and delivering other health benefits, due to beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene.
Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. They contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.
As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C and other antioxidants, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, some studies have shown that people who have diets rich in tomatoes may have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach.
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
The folic acid in tomatoes may also help with depression.
How to incorporate more tomatoes in your diet.
Make sure to store fresh tomatoes at room temperature. Avoid refrigeration, as this causes tomatoes to lose their flavour.
Tomatoes can be easily incorporated into your daily diet, from using them in sauces and soups to creating a quick bruschetta appetizer.
- Dip grape or cherry tomatoes in hummus or plain yoghurt dip and have as a side or a snack.
- Always add sliced tomato to your sandwiches.
- Add diced canned tomatoes to homemade or jarred pasta sauces.
- Used canned diced or stewed tomatoes in soups.
- Have a piece of toast with avocado and tomato slices.
- Make your own quick salsa with diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, coriander and freshly squeezed lime.
- Dice fresh tomatoes and add them to to your omelets or scramble egg for breakfast. If there is no time to grill fresh have tinned with your bacon and eggs.
- Drizzle freshly sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella with balsamic vinegar and top with chopped basil.
Risks and Precautions
Yes these days there is also a risk to eating tomatoes!!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces a list each year of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue, known as the Dirty Dozen. Cherry tomatoes are high on the list of produce that the EWG suggests that you buy in the organic version to ensure a lower risk of pesticide exposure. If you cannot afford organic, do not fret; the nutritional benefit of eating conventionally grown (non-organic) produce far outweighs the risk of not eating produce at all.
Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as tomatoes should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.