What are tomatoes good for? Well, a lot more than putting in a sandwich!
Tomatoes help your digestive system
Tomatoes are a ‘prebiotic’ (not to be confused with probiotics which are defined in this BBC article here). Prebiotics feed the good bacteria that we have in our gut, and they’ve been shown to be very good for our digestive health as well as help boost our immune system.
Tomatoes help your bones
Tomatoes have vitamin K and calcium, both of which are very good for strong bones. Add the lycopene into the mix (more about that below), and that makes tomatoes good for helping prevent osteoporosis (brittle bones as we age).
Tomatoes are a great ‘weight loss’ buddy
Tomatoes are very filling because they not only have fiber, but they are high in water content, making tomatoes good for cleansing the body of toxins and giving you a nice full feeling for very little calories.
The additional vitamins and minerals that they contain include folate, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3) and thiamin (vitamin B1), which make them very nutritious too. This means you’ll find them very satisfying (you’ll feel full for longer with mineral-rich foods).
They’re also high in chromium, which helps regulate your blood sugar – an extra bonus, particularly if you are detoxing.
Tomatoes can help fight disease
Tomatoes are well-known for being rich in lycopene which is believed to help prevent cancer as well as being a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene is said to help maintain the strength, thickness and fluidity of cell membranes which protect your cells and are responsible for what gets absorbed by your cells (nutrients) and what stays out (toxins). They are a bit like ‘bouncers’ or ‘security guards’ for your cells – letting in the nice elements and keeping the unsavory ones outside:) As strong cells are vital to prevent many diseases, you can imagine how important protecting your cells is!
Tomatoes can help with chronic pain
Now I bet you didn’t know this one! Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are known anti-inflammatory agents. So if you know anyone suffering from pain that comes from inflammation (eg back pain, arthritis), feed them tomatoes! Any food that helps attack the inflammation itself is going to be useful to combat this kind of chronic pain.
Tomatoes are good for your eyes
The vitamin A in tomatoes can help improve your vision as well as prevent night blindness. They have also been known to help prevent macular degeneration which is an irreversible eye condition.
Tomatoes are good for your hair
Did you know that tomatoes can help your hair be strong and shiny? They can – thanks to the vitamin A that they contain.
Tomatoes are good for your skin
Did you know that the lycopene in tomatoes is an internal protector against sunburn? I find it interesting that they grow in sunny spots…and they help us absorb the sun safely!
The vitamins A and C in tomatoes are also good for your skin because both are said to help fight free radicals which cause cell damage.
Tomatoes are good for your heart
Lycopene also helps prevent hardening of the arteries (so it is an important element in the prevention of heart disease and overall cardiovascular health.
And…you can add tomatoes to just about anything!
You can slice them, dice them, puree them…and put them in salads, soups, green smoothies…almost anything. They are a great way to add color and nutrition to so many different meals.
Here are some ideas to add more tomatoes into your diet:
- slicing them in a salad
- dicing them and adding them to soups
- eating them like apples, as my son does (he’d rather have raw tomatoes than soggy cooked veggies!)
- making raw tomato salsa (get my recipe here)
- pureeing them and adding them to ‘traditional’ sauces (including spaghetti sauce). You can fool people who won’t otherwise eat them raw this way…I know I do!
Children like them too because they are naturally sweet. They are best eaten raw to get all the benefits, as they turn acidic when cooked (and therefore aren’t good for your teeth), hence you’ll often find some sugar added in cooked versions of spaghetti sauce.
Tomatoes are truly a superfood in my book!
And what about you?
Have you got any ideas for adding raw tomatoes to a meal? Put them in the comments below!