Healthy Fuel: 8 Reasons to Eat Tomatoes

A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, BeInkandescent Health & Wellness magazine — Inspired by a new recipe for the Middle Eastern breakfast dish Skahskuka by my friend and client Hilary Schwab, the Edible Garden Girl, here are the health benefits of its main ingredient — tomatoes.

Did you know:

  • According to Chinese astrology: The tomato is often associated with good luck and the desire for a beautiful and prosperous life, Dreaming about tomatoes may suggest a step into a new phase at work or in life.
  • A little history: Introduced to West Africa by traders and slave owners, tomatoes have had an extensive impact on the region. Among the Bambara people of present-day Mali, tomatoes were seen as symbols of blood life and fertility.
  • Culinarily speaking: Tomatoes are the “holy trinity” of West African cooking — along with onions and chili peppers.
  • Love language: During their early days in Europe, tomatoes were known as “love apples” and this moniker developed from a few different influences. Since early specimens of the plant were yellow (presumably the red varieties were not developed until later) there were known in Italian as “pomo d’Or” or apple of gold. Another name for them was “pomo d’Moro” or apple of the Moors (this referred to the Spanish explorers who brought tomatoes back from the New World, as Spain had been occupied by the Muslim Moors until just a few generations prior). From such roots, the French “pomme d’amour” or love apple developed.

The bottom line: Tomatoes pack a nutritional punch

  • The fruit that people love to eat like a vegetable, Solanum Lycopersicum is a member of the nightshade family native to South America.
  • Packed with the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and they are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.
  • Whether you opt for the red variety — or prefer yellow, orange, green, or purple — realize that you are going to get a gush of H2O when you bite into one of these babies.
  • One 100-gram raw tomato is a mere 18 calories and is filled with 95% water, 0.9 grams of protein, 3.9 grams of carbs, 2.6 grams of sugar, 1.2 grams of fiber, and 0.2 grams of fat.
  • Scroll down to learn more!

8 Reasons to Add Tomatoes to your Life

1. Prevent several types of cancer. Lycopene is a natural antioxidant that studies show slows the growth of cancerous cells that reduces the possibility of developing prostate, colorectal, and stomach cancer. Cooked tomatoes produce even more lycopene, so go ahead and cook up a batch of your favorite tomato sauce or soup.4.

2. Repair damage caused by smoking. While eating tomatoes won’t help you quit smoking, adding them to your diet can reduce the amount of damage done to your body. That’s because tomatoes contain coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, which protect the body from carcinogens produced from cigarette smoke.

3. Keep your blood sugar at bay. Chromium in tomatoes works effectively to help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels under better control.

4. Maintain strong bones. The quantity of Vitamin A and Vitamin C in tomatoes, plus beta-carotene, are antioxidants that neutralize harmful free radicals in the blood that help reduce cell damage. The redder the tomato, the more beta-carotene it contains. Keep in mind that cooking destroys Vitamin C, so for these benefits eaten your tomatoes raw. Plus, tomatoes are packed with calcium and Vitamin K, which can strengthen and perform minor repairs to bones and bone tissue.

5. Support your heart and kidneys. Vitamin B and potassium in tomatoes can reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure—which can help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related problems. Studies show that adding tomatoes without seeds to your diet can reduce the risk of kidney stones.

6. Cleanse your skin. Lycopene, the ingredient used in pricy facial cleansers, can be made at home. Peel 8-12 tomatoes and place the skin on your face for 10 minutes, then wash to make it clean and shiny.

7. Strengthen your hair. Vitamin A in tomatoes also works to keep your hair shiny and strong. It also does wonders for your eyes, skin, bones, and teeth.

8. Make your eyes sparkle. That Vitamin A found in tomatoes is also fantastic for improving your vision. Studies show it can prevent the development of night blindness.

Can you have too much of a good thing? If you are sensitive to acid reflux, too many tomatoes can release excess gastric acid in the stomach. If that’s the case, eat them in moderation.