Tomatoes were once considered poisonous because they belong to the toxic nightshade family. But now, 200 years later, they rank as the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce and onions. Not only are they delicious and versatile, but tomatoes have immense nutritional value and health benefits.
Here are some of their health benefits:
1. Cardiovascular health. Readers Digest reports that eating seven or more servings of tomatoes — fresh, sun-dried, or cooked — cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 percent in a study of 35,000 women at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. According to Tomato Dirt, tomatoes help lower blood pressure because they are rich in potassium, thus further reducing your risk of heart disease. They are also rich in B6 and folate, two vitamins that tame dangerous homocysteine levels in the blood.
2. Prostate cancer. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes that gives the vegetable its rich, red color. Dr. Jonathan Simons, Chief Executive Officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation tellsNewsmax that “cooked tomatoes are good choice to prevent prostate cancer as the lycopene may reduce the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.”
3. Eyesight. According to The Doctor Oz Show, the lycopene in tomatoes, along with vitamin C, helps protect our vision by preventing the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. All About Vision adds that the vitamin A found in tomatoes helps protect night vision and reduces the risk of dry eyes, which can lead to eye infections and vision loss.
4. Gut bacteria. Enjoy your plate of pasta and tomato sauce knowing that you are actually helping your digestive health, saysCare2.com. Tomatoes act as prebiotics promoting the growth of healthy probiotics in the gut that can ward off many dreaded diseases and allergies. Researchers have found that cooked tomatoes offer more gut health benefits than raw ones. New research from Lund University in Sweden has shown that intestinal bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Science Daily, the results open the door to new opportunities for preventing and treating the disease.
5. Diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends tomatoes as a “superfood “to include in a daily eating plan. “The good news is that no matter how you like your tomatoes, pureed, raw, or in a sauce, you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium,” the ADA stated. Tomatoes are also digested slowly, which means blood glucose levels will experience a slow rise instead of a spike.
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