Some people love the taste of sweet natural tomatoes, while others don’t like their texture and acidity. Despite their mixed reviews, tomatoes are one of the healthiest foods in the produce aisle of the grocery store or your local farmers’ market. Tomatoes are packed with nutrients and vitamins that can help lower blood pressure, and may even prevent some cancers.
Here’s a list of 5 amazing health benefits you can gain from eating the ruby red delights:
1. Detoxifying Antioxidants
Many health professionals rave about the amazing benefits of antioxidants for the body. Tomatoes pack a heavy punch of these detoxifying antioxidants, which have been known to reduce the risk of, and be protective against, certain cancers.
High concentrations of lycopene, a carotenoid in tomatoes, have been proven highly effective in scavenging cancer causing free radicals. Studies suggest that lycopene is particularly good at fighting prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and stomach, esophageal, and rectal cancers.
2. Healthy Heart
Lycopene helps keep cholesterol levels low and protect against cardiovascular disease. Eating tomatoes regularly has shown significant reduction of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood; two of the main components that lead to the deposition of fats in blood vessels.
3. Better Eyesight
Vitamin A is imperative to improving and maintaining eye health and vision. Also a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A counteracts the negative effects of free radicals that can cause vision problems. It is also useful in slowing the progression of night-blindness and macular degeneration.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
Another positive effect that tomatoes have on the heart is in the reduction of high blood pressure. High levels of potassium found in tomatoes are what make these powerful in reducing the risk of hypertension. Potassium is known for its ability to provide increased circulation by reducing tension in arteries and blood vessels. By lowering tension in the blood vessels, it frees up the heart from higher stress and allows for the blood to flow more freely, in turn, lowering blood pressure.
5. Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Due to the high water content, tomatoes stimulate urination and serve as a diuretic in a matter of sense. Increasing urination helps to promote the release of toxins from the body, as well as excess salt and uric acid. By increasing your intake of tomatoes, you are helping to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections as well as reduce the potential for bladder cancer. The less time urine spends in the bladder, the less likely it is that UTIs and bladder cancer will occur.
In the case of UTIs, stagnant bladder urine is a breeding ground for bacteria. In the case of bladder cancer, the more time toxins in the urine spend against the bladder walls, the more likely one is to get bladder cancer. So keep that urine flowing!
Tomato, Nectarine & Mozzarella Salad
Here’s a quick and healthy salad recipe to whip up and enjoy some delicious tomato nutrition! Thanks to Food52 for the great idea.
Remember to use organic tomatoes (and other foods) when possible. Organic tomatoes are often no more expensive than non-organic, thanks to popular demand. Overall, in recent years, the price of many organic foods have moved closer to their non-organic counterparts.
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 3-4 tomatoes (organic)
- 2-3 nectarines
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella
- ¾ cup fresh basil leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over the salad)
- Himalayan salt and pepper
- 2 – 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup (I add a bit of honey before I reduce it)
Slice the tomatoes, nectarines, and mozzarella in wedges of approximately the same size and arrange on a platter with the basil leaves. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the reduced balsamic around the edge of the platter and over the top.
Downsides of Tomato Consumption
Due to the high acidity in tomatoes, they can aggravate symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux. I recommend that any individual suffering from gastrointestinal or acid reflux disease may want to steer clear of tomato consumption. Better yet, address the underlying cause of that GI distress!
Also, like any over indulgence of one type of food over another, if tomatoes become the main choice of fruit over other types, it can lead to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. As always, talk to a physician about any diet changes in order to better understand your individual needs and build a well-balanced plan.