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The Nutrition of Tomatoes

The tomato is a savory fruit that is usually a bright red color, and originates from South America. Tomatoes can be eaten fresh or cooked and used in many different kinds of meals. Tomatoes contain many nutrients with qualities that are beneficial to health.

Antioxidants

Tomatoes might contain several different antioxidants depending on the variety. Generally, red tomatoes contain high concentrations of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that is thought to be useful in preventing cancers of the prostate, lungs, stomach, skin and endometrial lining. It may also help prevent sunburn and reduce the risk of heart disease and the signs of aging. Studies have shown that eating tomatoes with broccoli makes the cancer fighting properties of both vegetables  stronger. Eating tomatoes and drinking green tea regularly may also have this effect. To get the most lycopene from tomatoes, they should be cooked as this releases more of the antioxidants. They should also be served with some oil included in the meal, as lycopene is fat soluble and is more easily absorbed when dissolved in oil.

Essential Vitamins

Tomatoes contain vitamin A, which is important for the health of your eyes and skin, as well as metabolic functions. Tomatoes also have a large amount of vitamin C, the lack of which will cause scurvy. Vitamin C is important for the healthy functioning of your immune system, as well as being an antioxidant. Tomatoes also contain vitamin K, which is important for maintaining bone health. Tomatoes also contain potassium, which can help to protect against heart disease and stroke. Tomatoes are also a source of iron, calcium and folate as well as other minerals.

Other Health Benefits

Tomatoes contain dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health and can help you to feel full for longer. Studies have shown that tomatoes are anti-inflammatory, and drinking a glass of tomato juice per day may help protect against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and osteoporosis. They might also be effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

Bad For Your Health?

Tomatoes come from the nightshade family, a plant group which contains many poisonous members, and tomato leaves are indeed poisonous. However, the fruit is not. Tomatoes can be very acidic so people with a sensitivity to acidic foods, such as those with ulcers, should stick to acid-free tomatoes, or avoid them altogether. Cooked tomatoes tend to be more acidic than fresh tomatoes.

Tomatoes have been involved in salmonella outbreaks, but this tends to be a consequence of the packaging and processing of tomatoes rather than the tomato itself. This problem can be avoided by only purchasing tomatoes from reputable sources. Tomatoes may contain solanine, which has been implicated in the development of arthritis, although there is no consensus on whether or not tomatoes even contain trace amounts of solanine.

Tomatoes are a healthy addition to any diet and have many different benefits, with few drawbacks. Tomatoes are versatile and can be included in a wide variety of dishes to take advantage of their beneficial qualities and great taste.

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