Tomatoes are one of the widely grown fruits. Whether eaten raw or cooked; there are many highly valued health benefits of tomatoes. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and lycopene and other nutrients like beta-carotene and lutein.
Lycopene is responsible for the red pigment in tomatoes. A powerful antioxidant, it helps in preventing cancer.
"Antioxidants are nutrients that repair the damage caused when body's cells metabolize oxygen"
When cells take in oxygen, the molecular bond breaks, producing byproducts called free radicals. These free radicals try to stabilize themselves by immediately latching onto the nearest molecule. It damages the healthy cells.
When there are increased number of free radicals and less number of antioxidants, it can lead to cancer. Introducing lycopene to the cells can prevent the growth of cancer cells.
In addition to its cancer preventing properties, lycopene plays a major role in acting as your skin's defense. It can raise your skin's SPF (sun protection factor) by acting as a natural internal sunblock.
Tomatoes also contain potassium, vitamin B6, and folate, all of them promoting heart health. Since lycopene is fat soluble, a whole tomato might not be a good source of nutrition. Instead, any food prepared based on tomato, combined with some oil will give you all the health benefits. Organic tomatoes have more nutrients than non-organic ones.
Vitamin A present in tomatoes provides healthy vision, bone growth, cell functions, reproduction and better immunity system. Vitamin C protects your cells from free radicals and is very critical for connective tissue, skin and bones. Vitamin C absorbs iron and helps in healing process.
Besides vitamins, another health benefit of tomatoes is that they are a good source of fiber. Another health fact about tomatoes is that tomatoes can lower the cholesterol level, manage blood sugar levels and prevents colon cancer.
Fiber helps in maintaining a healthy weight. Foods which are rich in fiber takes more time for chewing than other foods giving your stomach a chance to recognize when it is full. Also, fiber-rich foods help you feel full for a longer time.
[ Also Read: Health Benefits of Carrot ]
Other health benefits of tomatoes include cleaning of liver, toning the stomach, purifying blood stream and detoxifying the body. In addition to this, tomatoes promote digestion and so are used to treat conditions like indigestion, loss of appetite, constipation, and anorexia.
It also helps in reducing the risk of stomach, lung and prostate cancer.
The antioxidants reduce the harmful cholesterol concentration in blood. It minimizes the blocks and let the blood flow freely from the heart.
We are failing to teach our children the importance of eating fresh tomatoes every day.
Instead, we are allowing them to love ketchup or other tomato sauces rather than showing them the real value of the vegetable itself.
Make use of tomatoes in your daily meal. Include it as a salad, as a chutney, in a curry or vegetable or even in a pulao and enhance the nutritional value of the dish. Moreover, tomato also adds the distinctive pungent flavor to the dish that children love to taste.
It is never too late to make the change. It is not easy in today's culture of eating everything that is instant. Instead, make small changes in your eating habits. Stock up fresh tomatoes on your table and let your children enjoy this fruit every single day and devour the health learning the health benefits of tomatoes.
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