Tomatoes can be eaten raw. They can also be made into soup, basil soup, cucumber salad, tomato sauce, and can also be part of food recipes, or just be fried together with green vegetables, meat, or fruits. Some people make tomato juice out of them and others make them part of their delicious sandwiches.
In supermarkets and other shops, you can find raw unprocessed tomatoes and also canned tomatoes, crushed Italian tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato ketchup, tomato paste, tomato puree, tomato sauce, passata, sun-dried tomatoes, as well as stewed tomatoes.
There are so many different types of tomatoes including heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, plum tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green tomatoes, Campari tomatoes, pear tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, and Cherokee purple tomatoes. Nowadays, most dishes worldwide have tomatoes or tomato products in them like tomato source, tomato puree, tomato powder, and many others.
However, in the 1500s, wealthy Europeans thought tomatoes were poisonous because rich people during those days used plates and flatware with high lead content. Tomatoes are composed of high acid amounts and would cause the lead to leech out into the food resulting in lead poisoning and death. Poor people did not have that problem because they ate off of plates made of wood. This explains why tomatoes were only consumed by poor people until the 1800s.
Tomatoes are composed of the following nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds: water, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, fat, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K1, folate (vitamin B9), lycopene, beta carotene, naringenin, and chlorogenic acid.
Health benefits of tomatoes are: they are good for the skin; they help prevent many types of cancers including prostate, colorectal and stomach cancers; they help maintain strong bones; help repair damage caused by smoking; provide essential antioxidants; they are good for the heart; they are good for the hair; they are good for the kidneys; they are good for the eyes; and last but not least, tomatoes can improve your sexual life.
- Tomatoes are good for your heart:
Consumption of large amounts of tomatoes and tomato-based products like tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and stewed tomatoes lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect the function of the heart. They include abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias; aorta disease and Marfan syndrome; congenital heart disease; coronary artery disease (narrowing of the arteries); deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism; heart attack; heart failure; heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy); heart valve disease; pericardial disease; peripheral vascular disease; rheumatic heart disease; stroke; and vascular disease (blood vessel disease). Cardiovascular diseases cause the highest number of deaths in developed countries.
Jouni Karppi and colleagues, 2012, examined the relationship between myocardial infarction in men and concentrations of major carotenoids, for example, lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta carotene. They found out that low serum levels of lycopene and beta carotene may increase the risk of myocardial infarction in men.
Jouni Karppi and colleagues, 2012, examined whether serum concentrations of lycopene are related to stroke in men. They found out that raised serum levels of lycopene decrease the risk of any stroke and ischemic stroke in men. Mind you, lycopene is the most abundant carotenoid in ripened tomatoes. Lycopene is highly concentrated in the tomato skin and the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.
P Palozza and colleagues, 2012, reviewed the available evidence on the effect of lycopene and tomato products on cholesterol metabolism using results from experimental and human studies. Experimental results and most human intervention trials analyzed showed that dietary supplementation with lycopene and/or tomato-based products reduced plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol depending on dose and administration time.
Basu and V Imrhan, 2007, reviewed the effects of lycopene on biomarkers of oxidative stress and carcinogenesis in human clinical trials. They found out that most of the clinical trials with tomato products suggest that lycopene works in combination with other nutrients to lower biomarkers of oxidative stress and carcinogenesis.
- Tomatoes can prevent you from getting cancer:
Scientific studies have noted the relationship between increased intake of tomatoes and tomato products and decreased incidences of prostate, lung, and stomach cancer. The National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancer Terms describes cancer as “a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues.”
The most common types of cancer are breast cancer, lung cancer (including bronchus), prostate cancer, colon and rectal cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney (renal cell and renal pelvis cancer), endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer
Currently available types of cancer treatment are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, and stem cell transplant. To reduce your risk of getting cancer, you should (a) quit smoking, (b) eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, (c) maintain a healthy weight and be physically active, (d) protect yourself from the sun, (e ) get vaccinated, (f) avoid risky behaviors, and (g) get regular medical care.
Giovannucci, 1999, reviewed epidemiologic literature about the link between the risk of various cancers and the intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products and blood lycopene concentration. The researchers found out that apart from lycopene, there are many other potentially beneficial compounds in tomatoes, and the complex interactions among the various components may contribute to the anticancer properties of tomatoes. Furthermore, they also found out the consistency of results in support of the fact that higher intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products is associated with a lower risk of cancer.
Edward Giovannucci, 2002, carried out a review of epidemiologic studies of tomatoes, lycopene, and prostate cancer. They found out that a prospective study in male health professionals discovered that consumption of two to four servings of tomato sauce per week was associated with about a 35% risk reduction of total prostate cancer and a 50% reduction of advanced (extra-prostatic) prostate cancer.
Reiko Sato and colleagues, 2002, conducted a prospective study of carotenoids, tocopherols, and retinoid concentrations and the risk of breast cancer. A nested case-control study was carried out among female residents of Washington County, Maryland who had donated blood for a serum bank in 1974 or 1989. In this study, the association between serum and plasma concentrations of retinol, retinyl palmitate, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, total carotenoids, alpha-tocopherol, and gamma-tocopherol with subsequent development of breast cancer was investigated. They concluded that the results suggested that carotenoids may protect against the development of breast cancer.
Dagfinn Aune and colleagues, 2012, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies of dietary intake and blood concentrations of carotenoids and breast cancer risk. They found out that out of the six dietary carotenoids assessed, only consumption of beta-carotene was significantly associated with a reduced breast cancer risk. They concluded that blood concentrations of carotenoids are strongly associated with reduced breast cancer risk. You should always keep in mind the fact that tomatoes have got loads of beta-carotene.
- Tomatoes are good for your skin:
Healthy skin should be smooth, firm, even in tone, hydrated, strong, and free from diseases. The best foods for keeping your skin healthy include fatty fish, avocados, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, red or yellow bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, soy, dark chocolate, green tea, and red grapes.
There are so many skin disorders and some of them are acne, cold sore, blister, hives, actinic keratosis, rosacea, carbuncle, latex allergy, eczema, psoriasis, cellulitis, measles, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, lupus, contact dermatitis, vitiligo, wart, chickenpox, seborrheic eczema, keratosis pilaris, ringworm, melasma, and impetigo.
In addition to making the skin look beautiful and free from disease, tomatoes protect against sunburn.
Olivier Aust and colleagues, 2005, investigated the photoprotective effects of synthetic lycopene in comparison with a tomato extract (Lyc-o-Mato) and a drink containing solubilized Lyc-o-Mato (Lyc-o-Guard-Drink). They found out that the protective effect was more pronounced in the Lyc-o-Mato (38%) and Lyc-o-Guard-Drink (48%) groups. They concluded that supplementation with tomato-based products increased lycopene, phytofluene, and phytoene levels in human serum and protects against UV-light-induced erythema.
Tomatoes have got many health benefits some of which are not mentioned in this article. Although people are encouraged to consume more tomatoes, excessive intake may lead to side effects such as diarrhea, kidney stones, allergic reactions, joint pain, lycopenodermia, and poisoning.
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