A tomato is a savory, red fruit of the plant Lycopersicon lycopersicum and is a member of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade family, and is available in many varieties. There are small cherry tomatoes, bright yellow tomatoes, Italian pear-shaped tomatoes, and the green tomato, famous for its fried preparation in Southern American cuisine.
The tomato originates from South America, and it was spread around the world with the Spanish colonization of Americas. Only the fruits of this plant are edible, since the leaves contain toxic alkaloids. The fruit is often consumed raw, but it is also an important ingredient in various cooked dishes. Tomatoes are usually cultivated for culinary purposes, but they also have great positive impact on humans’ health, because of their high content of lycopene.
Nutritional facts about tomatoes
To get the maximum health benefits from tomatoes, one should always choose organic plants. Tomatoes are one of the healthiest and most available foods in the market. One cup of tomatoes, weighing approximately 150 grams, has only 27 calories.
A cup of fresh tomato will provide with 57.3% of the recommended daily value (RDA) for vitamin C, 22.4% of the RDA for vitamin A, and 7.9% of the RDA for fiber. Just one cup of tomatoes is enough to satisfy 11.4% of the recommended daily value for potassium, 5.6% of the RDA for niacin, 7.0% of the RDA for B6, 17.8% of the RDA for vitamin K, and 6.8% of the RDA for folate.
Tomato health benefits
Lycopene is the carotenoid found in tomatoes. This compound is, as a powerful antioxidant, proven effective in protection against cancer. Lycopene fights against free radicals and protects the cell structure from damage and related diseases. Lycopene is studied in humans and found to be protective against various cancers including colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
Tomatoes are packed with traditional nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin A, which are also powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants may help to prevent and even reverse serious health problems such as therosclerosis, diabetic complications, asthma, and cancers.
Tomatoes are also good sources of fiber, which may help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and keep the blood sugar at the optimum. Tomatoes provide a good intake of chromium, a mineral that is responsible for regulation of blood sugar.
As good sources of potassium, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate, tomatoes may help to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
Being a good source of vitamin K, tomato can help to maintain bone health and density.
Riboflavin, found in tomatoes, may help to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people suffering from this health problem.