Tomatoes are the fruit that is rejected by children (and probably adults sometimes too) most of the time. Anytime I observe children eat, tomatoes are among the first things they would rather not eat.
Maybe it is not because of their taste, but because their friends have told them they do not taste good. However, we keep telling children that tomatoes are healthy and want them to eat them. But are there any health benefits to this fruit? You are about to find out in this article.
A Little About The History of Tomatoes
Before I talk about why tomatoes are healthy, I want to share a little of the history of this fruit, which is a rather mysterious one.
When we think of tomatoes and their origins, we will most likely regard them to Italy, because of the abundance of tomatoes in their dishes. Mediterranean recipes are not only well-known worldwide, but if you look at them you will see that it includes lots of tomatoes.
However, tomatoes do not have their origins in Europe, even though it is a common food even in gourmet meals. Before tomatoes came to Europe and made it into the Italian kitchen, they traveled long ways.
Wild tomatoes can be found today in the Andes in South America, and it is believed that this is where Spanish explorers were first introduced to the tomatoes, which were unknown to Europeans. But Peruvians seem to have had large successful plantations by the time Spanish conquerors came to their country. Historians suggest that tomatoes are native to Peru.
From there, tomatoes were introduced to Europe, in the sixteenth century. However, around two centuries would have to pass before they were finally well accepted in France, Germany and other countries in northern Europe.
The belladonna, which is a toxic plant with red fruit, very similar to tomatoes (and they belong to the same botanical family: The nightshade plants) made people unsure about the use of tomatoes.
Countries in southern Europe had a different approach to this healthy fruit. It did not take long until they made it an inseparable part of their kitchens, and that continues to the date.
The bizarre thing though is that tomatoes were introduced to the U.S. and Canada by European immigrants. It was a long way for this fruit to finally reach North America, while it was well-established in Mexico for a long time already.
As stated before, it took quite some time until this fruit would gain its way into the kitchens as part of a healthy diet, unlike other fruits and vegetables that made their ways pretty quickly and easily.
Modern scientists have reconstructed the meaning to tomatoes, though. They have found that tomatoes are much more than just an added ingredient in salads or sauces. The nutritional value and the healing power of this fruit are more extensive than it was ever thought to be possible. Therefore, nowadays, people use this fruit in large as food-medicine because of its power.
Also, an average of 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes is consumed monthly per person worldwide, which is fairly high considering the short time it has been around in most of the parts of the world. Yet, the good thing about it is that most of the consumed tomatoes are homegrown and fresh.
Property Of the Tomato
Fresh tomatoes are made up of water (around 94% of their weight is water). It has only a small amount of proteins (0.85%) and fats (0.33%), but these makeup for the small number of calories that tomatoes have; Only 95 kcal per pound. That is less than most fruit or vegetables have. You can eat plenty of tomatoes before you have your caloric intake used up in a day.
However, even if tomatoes give you few calories, they make that up in their high number of vitamins and minerals.
The most abundant vitamin found in it is vitamin C. Although oranges contribute a higher number of Vitamin C (53mg per 100 g vs. 19mg per 100 g), it is enough to be considered as a high intake of vitamin C if you eat tomatoes on a regular basis.
As for the minerals, you can find high amounts of potassium, followed by iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. It’s amazing that a medium-sized tomato can have the same amount of iron than a normal sized egg. So iron deficiency can be remedied by eating tomatoes.
What also makes tomatoes a great food to eat regularly is the fact that all carotenoids are present, especially lypocene, which has an intense antioxidant function. Lypocene is thought to control cell growth. If you do not have lypocene, cells grow abnormally and disorderly.
As you see, tomatoes are packed with nutritional value and its benefits cannot be denied as you will see in the following section.
What Are Tomatoes Good For?
Since tomatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals and others, it implies that there are many health benefits. In this section, I will outline 6+ health.
1) Prevents cancer
Like many other vegetables, the many nutrients that a tomato provides, help prevent a number of cancers.
Prostate cancer is the first one you will find mentioned in every study. Men eating tomatoes either fresh, in sauces or in juices are at lower risk to suffer from prostate cancer.
Lypocene is what degenerates carcinogenic cells, and also helps maintain the prostate in the correct size. (as stated above, abnormal growth occurs when there is a deficiency of lypocene). In men over 50, it is very common that the prostate begins to grow excessively, which can be prevented by a high intake of tomatoes.
Lypocene is also responsible for the distinguished and remarkable red color in tomatoes.
There are other cancers known to be prevented by eating tomatoes like colorectal cancer, and even stomach cancer.
If tomatoes can prevent a number of common diseases like prostate cancer, why not eat it regularly?
2) Tomatoes are diuretic
Tomatoes help our kidneys to function properly because they are made up of mostly water. Only recent research contradicts the claims about tomatoes and their relationship to kidney stones.
Tomatoes were prohibited for people with kidney stones because of oxalic acid. This substance together with calcium forms salts, which eventually become kidney stones, according to outdated research.
However, the oxalic acid is present in such small quantities (far less than many other foods), as found in recent studies, that the diuretic properties outweigh the negative effects by far. Therefore, there is no reason to not consume tomatoes.
There are even studies that suggest that the risk of kidney stones is reduced when you remove the tomato’s seeds before eating them.
3) Give your great hair
Iron deficiency can cause many problems like anemia, which can cause hair loss. Since tomatoes are rich in iron, the positive effects are not only limited to healthy hair but also to prevent prematurely born babies, reduce the risk for blood loss, among others.
The properties and benefits of iron could be discussed in a long article.
4) Repair damage caused by smoking
This is the one that blew me away because never had I thought about the extent of the good properties of a tomato. No, eating tomatoes will not heal the damage done to your body by smoking, but its properties help repair and fix the damage done by carcinogens released by cigarettes.
Tomatoes not only make you healthier, they prevent a good number of problems and health issues.
5) Prevent heart disease
As stated above, tomatoes are a good source of potassium, a mineral that most Americans do not get enough of. Enough potassium is linked to heart health. It lowers cholesterol levels and keeping the arteries “soft” which prevents atherosclerosis (a disease in which the arteries “harden” up and are not flexible anymore, which makes it more difficult for blood to flow through). People that consume tomatoes regularly are known to have lower risks of cardiovascular diseases, according to research.
6) … and whatnot else!
Because of vitamin A, tomatoes are good for your eyes, for your skin, strong and shiny hair, bones and teeth. Because of vitamin B and potassium, tomatoes are effective in lowering blood pressure, keeping cholesterol levels lower, and ultimately prevent strokes and heart attacks, which I already mentioned. Because of vitamin C, tomatoes are excellent antioxidants for they free the body from harmful radicals that are set free by DNA cells and cause issues with the blood.
And the list goes on and on. There are many more reasons to eat tomatoes.
What About You?
I do eat lots of tomatoes. This is the fruit that I always have in my house and eat them daily. Not just because of the health benefits I get from them, I love their taste and the different ways to prepare them and use them in cooking.
Also, tomatoes are not pricey, if you have to buy them in the supermarket. You can afford to eat many of them.
There are also multiple ways to eat them: I love to make all kinds of salsa with tomatoes, we make our own sauces, we eat them in stews, in all kinds of salads, sauteed, cooked, baked, raw, etc.
Research also suggests that tomatoes are among the few fruits that do not lose its properties through cooking, freezing, stewing, and whatever you like. Contrary to losing the nutritional value, some benefits are stronger when cooked, other when eaten raw, and so on. That makes tomatoes a must eat and must have.
Another fact why we eat so many tomatoes in my family is because they are easy to grow. I have grown them in my garden for a number of years, and have had success every time with it so far. I plant at least 3 varieties every year so we can have them for all different kinds of uses, like cherry tomatoes for snacks, salad tomatoes for our salads and meals, and beefsteak tomatoes for juices, salsas and sauces.
Before I knew about the health benefits of tomatoes, when I was a child, we had to eat tomatoes whenever we had a sore throat. We added a little salt and lemon juice and it really helped. Although I have not researched that recipe, I believe that tomatoes have healing properties!
If you should have any questions or comments about this healthy fruit, please feel free to leave me a comment below. As always, I appreciate talking with you about the topics I discuss.
To your health,