Five Things You Need to Know About Tomatoes

January 07, 2014

Tomatoes can add color and flavor to almost any recipe or meal. Find out the top five reasons you should eat tomatoes here...

Tomatoes are versatile and delicious, gorgeously red and super tasty when freshly picked and even quickly canned. Almost any recipe can be doctored up with fresh, canned, diced, sundried and more – and the health benefits of tomatoes are as abundant as its uses. Find out the five reasons you should eat tomatoes here.

Breast cancer
Tomatoes could help boost levels of a hormone that plays an important role in sugar and fat metabolism, potentially lowering the risk of breast cancer according to a new study. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism demonstrated that women who were assigned to eat 10 weeks of tomato products (that contained 25 milligrams of lycopene each day) also experienced higher levels of the metabolism-regulating hormone, adiponectin.  "The advantages of eating plenty of tomato and tomato rich products, even for a short period, were clearly evident…" study researcher Adana Llanos, Ph.D., MPH, of Rutgers University, said. "Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits."

Heart health
Dr. Tissa Kappagoda of the University of California-Davis and Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State University reported on their research findings that centered on the amazing health benefits of canned tomatoes. Dr. Kappagoda reports that, “in a six-week study, people with high blood pressure who consumed two servings of canned tomato products daily, experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure.” For example - systolic went from 132 to 115 and diastolic from 86 to 75. Now that should make your heart happy!

In a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers explored the relationship between tomatoes and tomato products, and depressive symptoms in a community-based elderly population. After analyzing their health records, researchers found that those who included tomatoes in their diet regularly were less likely to have depression. Unlike other fruits and vegetables, when people ate tomatoes daily, the risk of depression was reduced by 52 percent. The study also showed that those who ate tomatoes two to six times per week were 46 percent less likely to develop depression than those who ate them less than once a week!

Prostate Cancer
Frequent consumption of tomato products may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, concludes a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., and colleagues from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed tomato-product-consumption patterns and prostate cancer cases among roughly 47,400 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Researchers found that the consumption of tomato sauce was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer among men of Southern European descent (who typically have tomato-rich diets), and among men of Caucasian ancestry. The authors conclude that frequent consumption of tomato products is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. They note, however, that it remains to be seen whether lycopene is the key compound in reducing prostate cancer risk.

Rich in vitamins and minerals
Tomatoes also serve as a significant source of vitamin C, and K, fiber and potassium, and in fact, they contain more than twice the potassium of bananas, potatoes, milk and orange juice. On top of the plethora of vitamins and minerals, tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, specifically lycopene (the many benefits of tomatoes stated above are in part due to the content of lycopene.) Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that is protective against heart disease and some cancers (and gives tomatoes their red color). Tomato products that are cooked (like pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, etc.) have more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.

Whether canned, dried or fresh, tomatoes can add a bushel of health and flavor to your meals.