It’s a classic ingredient that is a daily staple for many, and this May it even has its own week to celebrate it! The tomato is a classic fruit (not vegetable), that we can grow here in the UK and is a much-loved food used in many recipes.
British Tomato Week takes place throughout this week. Help make the tomato a triumph by learning more about the incredible health benefits of tomatoes!
Health benefits of tomatoes
1. They’re a great energy source
Like many fruits, tomatoes are a natural source of carbohydrate which are essential for giving the body energy. While you might need to watch your intake on a low-carb diet, they are low in fat and make an excellent ingredient in many dishes.
2. They’re high in nutrients
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals, helping your body to get what it needs to stay healthy. Among the vitamins and nutrients found in tomatoes are calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A-producing beta-carotene and some B vitamins. It’s much healthier to get your vitamins from natural food sources over supplements, so adding some tomatoes to your lunchtime salad or sandwich can help you boost your intake.
3. They have antioxidant properties
Antioxidants are able to help the body fight off illnesses and diseases such as cancer. Lycopene is often mentioned in studies and is related to preventing cancer. It’s found in high quantities in tomatoes and is what gives them their red pigment. Even ketchup has been shown to contain quantities of lycopene, as well as other tomato-based products.
4. They can improve heart health
Eating a balanced diet is important for your heart health, and eating the right foods can offer extra protection. Tomatoes can help to reduce cholesterol levels, while their high potassium content also means they could be helpful in lowering the risk of a stroke. As a low fat, low-calorie ingredient, they can help you keep your weight down and avoid the problems associated with obesity.
5. They can improve your eye health
Your eye health is important, especially as you get older. Some fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals which are known for protecting against age-related eye conditions, and tomatoes are one of them. Carotenoids (lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene) are essential for boosting your eye health alongside carrots, sweet potato and other vibrant fruits and vegetables.
6. They can help prevent sun damage
Our skin is sensitive to UV rays, and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer and other conditions. Studies have shown that an increased intake of carotenoids can reduce sensitivity to the sun, but that shouldn’t give you a reason to ditch the sun protection!
7. They can aid with blood clotting
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin K, which helps the body to repair wounds while also helping the blood to clot. A healthy intake of vitamin K will help to boost your body’s defences and help it to repair itself when needed.
8. They can boost digestion
Fibre is important for keeping our digestive systems in good working order, and tomatoes are packed with fibre. They can help ward off both diarrhoea and constipation to keep you regular.
Tomatoes are an affordable and versatile food to form a part of a healthy diet. You can have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner or even as a snack – so they’re always worth having in fresh and tinned form in your home. As a key ingredient for many dishes, it’s easy to enjoy the many health benefits of tomatoes.
For more useful information about diet and nutrition, visit the NHS Choices website for some excellent recipes and healthy eating tips.