Tomatoes 101: Health Benefits, Facts, and Side Effects

SixFruits Editor

Tomatoes are very beneficial for the health of the body.

They provide us with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium.

Below you will find information about tomatoes and their nutritional benefits.

Nutrition Facts

Tomatoes are 95% made up of water. The rest is fiber and carbohydrates.

100 grams of tomato (a small tomato) gives us:

  • Water: 95%
  • Calories: 18
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams

Carbs

A raw tomato is composed of 4% carbohydrates, less than 5 grams of carbohydrates for a medium sample.

Also, 70% of the carbohydrate content is simple sugars like glucose and fructose.

Fiber

Tomatoes are also a good source of fiber since a medium tomato provides about 1.5 grams of fiber.

Most of the fiber content is insoluble. It’s about hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.  

Vitamins And Minerals

In addition to the above, tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin K1: This vitamin is beneficial for bone health and blood clotting.
  • Vitamin C: is an essential nutrient and antioxidant. A medium tomato provides us with 28% of the daily value.
  • Vitamin B9: Also known as folate, vitamin B9 is important for normal tissue growth and cell health. It is especially beneficial for pregnant women.
  • Potassium: this mineral is very important for improving blood pressure levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Other Tomatoes Compounds

Although the plant compounds can vary according to the species and the sampling period, the main plant compounds in tomatoes are:

  • Beta carotene: is an antioxidant compound that is converted into vitamin A once it is digested.
  • Lycopene: is an antioxidant that provides many health benefits.
  • Chlorogenic acid: this antioxidant is used to regulate blood pressure levels in people with hypertension.
  • Naringenin: This flavonoid is found in the skin of tomatoes. In a study carried out in mice, it was found that it serves to reduce inflammation and prevent various diseases.

The color of tomatoes is thanks to chlorophylls and carotenoids.

Once the tomato ripening process begins, the chlorophylls (green color) degrade, and the carotenoids synthesize (red color).

Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid found on the skin of tomatoes.

It is known that the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.

Tomato-based products, such as tomato sauces or ketchup, provide us with a large amount of lycopene. They even provide us with more than 80% of dietary lycopene.

In fact, the lycopene content in processed tomato products is higher than in raw tomatoes.

For example, 100 grams of ketchup gives us between 10 and 14 mg of lycopene, while 100 grams of fresh tomato gives us between 1 and 8 mg of lycopene.

It is noteworthy that the absorption of lycopene varies according to the foods consumed in the diet. For example, eating fatty foods increases the absorption of lycopene.

However, not all people can absorb the same range of lycopene.

Top 3 Health Benefits of Tomatoes

health benefits of tomatoes
Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Consuming tomatoes and tomato-based products help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease while improving skin health.

1. Heart Health

According to a study conducted in middle-aged men, low levels of lycopene and beta-carotene in the blood can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

In addition, it has been shown that the consumption of foods rich in lycopene can lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood.

Not only that, but some studies ensure that the consumption of tomatoes fights inflammation and oxidative stress.

Another study found that they cause a protective effect on the inner layers of blood vessels and reduce the risk of blood clotting.

2. Cancer Prevention

According to studies, the consumption of tomatoes reduces the risk of suffering from cancer of the stomach, prostate, and lungs.

While high levels of lycopene are believed to help reduce cancer risk, more studies are still needed to confirm its beneficial effects.

On the other hand, a study carried out on women found that the consumption of carotenoids serves to prevent breast cancer.

3. Skin Health

Studies have shown that foods rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes, act against sunburn.

In fact, one study found that consuming 40 grams of tomato paste each day for ten days reduces sunburn by 40%.

Commercial Ripening Process

Ripening tomatoes produce a hormone called ethylene.

However, commercial tomatoes are harvested when they are not ripe, so they are artificially sprayed with ethylene.

To ripen the green tomatoes, you can wrap them in a newspaper sheet and keep them like that for a few days until they have matured.

Safety And Side Effects

While a tomato allergy is not common, people who have grass pollen allergies can develop an allergy to tomatoes.

The allergic reaction can cause an itchy mouth or scratchy throat.

People with an allergy to latex can also have adverse effects when consuming tomatoes.

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