The tomato is one of the most common foods in Brazilian cuisine – and it’s a good thing it’s such a big part of our diet. Indeed, the fruit, often called vegetable, is rich in antioxidants and other nutrients, which provide excellent benefits to the body.
In addition, tomatoes are low in calories and rich in vitamins A, B, C, K and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Vitamins act as antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals to stop the state of oxidative stress, which causes cellular damage and disruption that can contribute to disease. Minerals play an important role in the proper functioning of the body.
Because it has a good concentration of vitamin C, the tomato is an ally of the immune system, explains nutritionist Cyntia Maureen. “The consumption of this fruit allows an increase in defense cells, preventing infections and the development of diseases. It is indicated for the treatment of anemia, as it helps iron absorption and healing processes,” he says.
The fruit also contributes to heart health and proper nerve and muscle function, thanks to the high amount of potassium. A medium tomato contains nearly 300 mg of potassium, a cup of tomato juice contains 534 milligrams of potassium, and a tomato contains 454 milligrams. It also provides long-term cardiovascular benefits, especially when consumed in its industrialized version, thanks to the antioxidants present in this format.
The tomato and the power of lycopene
However, the great nutritional benefit of tomatoes is lycopene. It is the carotenoid that gives the red color to the fruit and acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Studies published by the National Library of Medicine journal indicate that tomatoes can prevent the development of many tumors in different areas of the body, such as the prostate, lungs and digestive system. And the main culprit for this is precisely lycopene. “This antioxidant helps prevent the proliferation of abnormal cells and is indicated as a tumor reducer,” says nutritionist Cyntia Maureen.
Additionally, lycopene and certain other phytonutrients may decrease lipoperoxidation, which occurs when oxygen damages blood fats. In excess, the process can trigger the progressive blockage of blood vessels (atherosclerosis). Lycopene has also been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Lycopene may promote bone health and help prevent the development of osteoporosis. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that participants with higher levels of lycopene in their blood were less likely to suffer a hip or non-vertebral fracture. Another study, published in Osteoporosis International, found that postmenopausal women who added lycopene to their diet for four months had decreased bone resorption (breakdown of bone).
Additionally, some small-scale studies suggest that the lycopene content of tomatoes may help asthmatics. A study, published in Free Radical Research, found that taking tomato paste reduced lung inflammation. Other research, published in Allergy, found that a daily dose of lycopene for a week reduced exercise-induced asthma in 55% of participants. The researchers suspect this was due to an antioxidant effect on the lungs.
Other benefits of tomato
Among the many benefits of consuming tomatoes in food, we also highlight helping to promote smooth digestion, healthy and regular stool volume, reduced risk of various types of cancer, lower risk of stroke and a reduced risk of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. illness, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods.
“Its properties help protect cells against excess free radicals in the body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, cancer and delaying cell aging,” concludes Cyntia.
Source: nutritionist Cyntia Maureen and Tomate Brasil.