FUN FACT: Tomatoes 101

Updated: Mar 17, 2020



A tomato is a nutrient-dense superfood that offers benefit to a range of bodily systems. Its nutritional content supports healthful skin, weight loss, and heart health. Tomatoes are now the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions. This article will examine their powerful health benefits, nutritional content, ways to include more tomatoes in the diet, and the risks of tomato consumption.

Despite botanically being a fruit, it’s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable. Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Usually red when mature, tomatoes can also come in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, green, and purple. What’s more, many subspecies of tomatoes exist with different shapes and flavor.


Cancer

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. With these components, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are known to cause cancer.

A recent studyTrusted Source in the journal Molecular Cancer Research linked the intake of high levels of beta-carotene to the prevention of tumor development in prostate cancer.

Tomatoes also contain lycopene. Lycopene is a polyphenol, or plant compound, that has been linked with one type of prostate cancer preventionTrusted Source. It also gives tomatoes their characteristic red color.

Tomato products provide 80 percentTrusted Source of dietary lycopene consumed in the U.S.

A studyTrusted Source of the Japanese population demonstrates that beta-carotene consumption may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Fiber intake from fruits and vegetables is associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

Diets rich in beta-carotene may play a protective roleTrusted Source against prostate cancer.

Further human-based research is needed to explore the possible roles of lycopene and beta-carotene in preventing or treating cancer.


Blood pressure

Maintaining a low sodium intake helps to maintain healthful blood pressure. However, increasing potassium intake may be just as important due to its widening effects on the arteries.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of U.S. adults meet the recommended daily potassium intake of 4,700 milligramsTrusted Source (mg).