Tomato, scientifically know as Lycopersicon esculentum and commonly referred to as the “Love Apple” is a popular vegetable with high anti-oxidant. They are sweet and juicy and healthy. Tomatoes are very versatile as they can be eaten as a salad, in a sandwich or as gravy for vegetables – not to forget “the all important tomato sauces.”
Tomatoes are a rich source of potassium; a cup of tomato juice has 534mg of potassium and half a cup of tomato sauce has 454mg of potassium. Physiologically, potassium plays an important role in transmission of nerve signals, fluid balance in the body and many other important chemical reactions. Potassium is used to treat high blood pressure, insulin resistance, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscle weakness, and even bloating and intestinal disorders.
Did you know that tomatoes do not have to be a deep red color to be an outstanding source of lycopene? Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of many tomatoes. 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. That’s because the lycopene in deep red tomatoes is mostly trans-lycopene, and the lycopene in orange/tangerine tomatoes is mostly tetra-cis-lycopene. In a recent study, this tetra-cis form of lycopene turned out to be more efficiently absorbed by the study participants. While more research is needed in this area, we’re encouraged to find that tomatoes may not have to be deep red in order for us to get great lycopene-related benefits.
Tomatoes are widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, including, of course, their often times-rich concentration. Researchers have recently found an important connection between tomatoes and their antioxidant properties, and yes even bone health (hint hint ladies). A study was designed in which tomato and other dietary sources of lycopene were removed from the diets of postmenopausal women for a period of 4 weeks, to see what effect lycopene restriction would have on bone health. At the end of 4 weeks, women in the study started to show increased signs of oxidative stress in their bones and unwanted changes in their bone tissue. The study investigators concluded that removal of lycopene-containing foods (including tomatoes) from the diet was likely to put women at increased risk of osteoporosis. They also argued for the importance of tomatoes and other lycopene-containing foods in the diet. We don’t always think about antioxidant protection as being important for bone health, but it is, and tomato lycopene (and other tomato antioxidants) may have a special role to play in this area.
There are literally hundreds of different tomato varieties. We usually choose our favorite varieties by some combination of flavor, texture, and appearance. But a recent study has shown that we may also want to include antioxidant capacity as a factor when we are choosing among tomato varieties. Surprisingly, researchers who compared conventionally grown versus organically grown tomatoes found that growing method (conventional versus organic) made less of an overall difference than variety of tomato. Our Castlerock Tomatoe is a lycopene packer and are excellent heritage favorite in the USA.
The consumption of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis. (In a recent South American study of 26 vegetables, tomatoes and green beans came out best in their anti-aggregation properties.) But only recently are researchers beginning to identify some of the more unusual phytonutrients in tomatoes that help provide us with these heart-protective benefits. One of these phytonutrients is a glycoside called esculeoside A; another is flavonoid called chalconaringenin; and yet another is a fatty-acid type molecule called 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid. As our knowledge of unique tomato phytonutrients expands, we are likely to learn more about the unique role played by tomatoes in support of heart health.
Health Benefits from Eating Tomatoes
- Help to prevent many forms of Cancer: A number of studies have been conducted that indicate that the high levels of lycopene in tomatoes works to reduce your chances of developing prostate, colorectal and stomach cancer. Lycopene is a natural antioxidant that works effectively to slow the growth of cancerous cells. Cooked tomatoes produce even more lycopene, so go ahead and cook up a batch of your mom’s famous tomato soup.
- Good for your skin:
- Tomatoes contain a high level of lycopene, which is a substance that is used in some of the more pricy facial cleansers that are available for purchase over-the-counter.
- If you want to try tomatoes for skin care, you need to start with about eight to twelve tomatoes. Peel the tomatoes and then place the skin on your face with inside of the tomato touching your skin. Leave the tomatoes on your face for a minimum of ten minutes, then wash. Your face will feel clean and shiny. Some redness may occur, but should fade with time.
- They help repair damage caused by smoking.
- No, eating tomatoes is not the most recent fad to help you quit smoking. However, tomatoes can reduce the amount of damaged done to your body by smoking cigarettes.
- Tomatoes contain coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid that work to protect the body from carcinogens that are produced from cigarette smoke.
- High in essential antioxidants.
- Tomatoes contain a great deal of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. This is primarily because these vitamins and beta-carotene work as antioxidants to neutralize harmful free radicals in the blood. Free radicals in the blood stream are dangerous because it may lead to cell damage. Remember, the redder the tomato you eat is, the more beta-carotene it contains. In addition, you also want to keep in mind that cooking destroys the Vitamin C, so for these benefits, the tomatoes need to be eaten raw.
- Good for your heart.
- Because of the Vitamin B and potassium in tomatoes, they are effective in reducing cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. Therefore, by including tomatoes in your regular balanced diet you can effectively prevent heart attacks, strokes as well as many other heart related problems that may threaten your life.
- Good for your hair.
- The Vitamin A in tomatoes works perfectly to keep your hair shiny and strong. In addition, it also does wonders for your eyes, skin, bones and teeth.
- Help maintain strong bones.
- Tomatoes contain a considerable amount of calcium and Vitamin K. Both of these nutrients are essential in strengthening and performing minor repairs on the bones as well as the bone tissue.
- Good for your kidneys.
- Adding tomatoes without seeds to your diet has been proven in some studies to reduce the risk of kidney stones.
- Good for your eyes and your vision.
- The Vitamin A found in tomatoes is fantastic for improving your vision. In addition, eating tomatoes is one of the best foods to eat to prevent the development of night blindness.
- Help to control and regulate healthy blood sugar levels
- Tomatoes are packed full of the valuable mineral known as chromium. It works effectively to help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels under better control.
How exciting was that to learn about some of the health benefits for both men and women regarding the consumption of tomatoes. If you want to try a hardy and easy to grow Heirloom Tomato I suggest you try our Heirloom Castle Rock Tomato seeds. This variety is EXCELLENT for those who love to preserve tomatoes by canning.
At the time of writing this article Spring is fast approaching and I hope you’re getting started with getting your seedlings started and you’ll have a bumper Heirloom Garden this year!