Health Benefits, Risks of Tomatoes


By BenPrince Ezeh

A tomato is a nutrient-dense super food that offers benefit to a range of bodily systems. Its nutritional content supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health.

It is now the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions. It contains chemicals called lycopene, carotenoids and lutein. These can protect the eye against light-induced damage.

The advantages are enormous that you barely see families that do not take it. Adding tomatoes in the diet can help protect against cancer, maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce blood glucose in people with diabetes.

Felicita Ogbu, a doctor said that the benefits of consuming different types of fruit and vegetables are impressive, and tomatoes are no different. “As the proportion of plant foods in the diet increases, the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer decreases.

“There are different types and sizes of tomato, and they can be prepared in different ways. These include cherry tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, raw tomatoes, soups, juices, and purees,” she said.

According to her, increasing the consumption of tomatoes significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. “High fruit and vegetable intake is also linked to healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and lower weight,” Ogbu said.

Jennifer Ani, a nutritionist said that cooking of tomatoes appears to increase the availability of key nutrients such as the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

“Stewed tomatoes provide more lutein and zeaxanthin than sun-dried tomatoes and raw cherry tomatoes. It also contains folate, which helps to balance homocysteine levels.

“Homocysteine is an amino acid that results from protein breakdown. It is said to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The management of homocysteine levels by folate reduces one of the risk factors for heart disease,” she said.

Just like its benefits, tomatoes has its own risks when you fail to take them appropriately. Every year, the Environmental Working Group, EWG, compiles a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue. These foods are known as the Dirty Dozen.

In 2017, tomatoes are number 10 and cherry tomatoes number 14 on the list. Though it has not been proven that eating organic foods has overall health benefits, the EWG suggests that people should buy organic tomatoes where possible.

Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High potassium foods such as tomatoes should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people with impaired kidney function. Failure to remove excess potassium from the blood can be fatal.

Those with gastro esophageal reflux disease, GERD may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and vomiting when consuming highly acidic foods such as tomatoes. Nevertheless, Individual reactions vary because nutrients of one food type do not give a complete picture of how to achieve a healthful diet. It is better to eat a varied diet than to concentrate on individual foods.

– June 14, 2019 @ 16:49 GMT |

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