Tomatoes Can Cut Risk of Skin Cancer, and 5 More Things You Need to Know

July 25, 2017

Find out the six reasons you need to add tomatoes to your shopping list today.

Tomatoes are versatile and delicious, gorgeously red and super tasty when freshly picked and even quickly canned or jarred. Luckily, it’s tomato season around the country and that means the tastiest, fresh off the vine tomatoes of the year are here!

Almost any recipe can be doctored up with fresh, canned, diced, sundried and more – and the health benefits are as abundant as its uses. Find out the five reasons you need to add tomatoes to your shopping list today.

Skin Cancer. Great news for those who love to enjoy the sun and also like this summertime fruit! Findings from a recent study at Ohio State University that when mice were fed tomato powder and exposed to ultraviolet rays, the risk of skin cancer was cut by 50%. Scientists say that it's the dietary carotenoids, which give tomatoes their color, that may protect skin against UV light damage.

Mood. Can tomatoes and tomato products, help with depression? After analyzing 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 tomatoes were consumed daily, the risk of depression was reduced by 52 percent. The study found 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! The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.  

Blood Pressure benefits. In a six-week study, conducted back in 2010, those 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!

Breast cancer. Cooked 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. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism demonstrated that women who were assigned to eat 10 weeks of tomato products (minimum of 25 milligrams of lycopene daily) 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."

Rich in vitamins and minerals. Tomatoes also rich in vitamin C, B6, and K, biotin, fiber and potassium. 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. Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that is protective against heart disease and some cancers. Tomato products that are cooked - like pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, etc. - have more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.

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. Researchers analyzed tomato-product-consumption patterns and prostate cancer cases among roughly 47,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and found that the consumption of tomato sauce was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

More on lycopene: Surprisingly, tomatoes do not have to be a deep red color to be an outstanding source of lycopene. A small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange- and tangerine-colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes! While more research is needed in this area, it’s encouraging that we can choose tomatoes of all colors to liven up our meals and boost our health.

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