The Health Benefits of Tomatoes.

Tomatoes are nutrient packed fruits and botanically speaking they are berries. The consumption of tomatoes and tomato extract offers a powerhouse of antioxidants including a good source of vitamin A, C, E flavones, flavonols, carotenoids and glycocides. These juicy fresh fruits are available all year round, although they are in season from July through to September.

Tomatoes originate from Mexico and is thought they were prized by the Aztec civilisations. Spanish explorers brought the seeds back to European shores around the 1500's, although not initially welcomed, they have now become a firm favourite.
The largest producing country of tomatoes is China, followed the the United States, Turkey and Italy.

Lycopene is the carotenoid pigment that is known for its bright red colour on tomatoes however, the colours can vary from red, yellow, orange, green, purple, black and brown. Interestingly small studies have shown that lycopene is more effectively absorbed by the body in the orange tomatoes, compared to those that are red in colour.

There are a huge variety of tomatoes and research suggests that each variety has their own set of nutrients benefits, the varieties with the highest antioxidants are 'Jet Star', 'Fantastic', 'First Lady' and 'New Girl'.

Tomatoes have become synonymous with their association to heart health, with benefits observed in cholesterol reduction, including LDL Cholesterol and triglycerides.
Another way tomatoes benefit heart health is through lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, this is achieved by preventing platelet cells in the blood from clumping together.

It may be surprising to know but tomatoes have been linked to health benefits for your bones, this is believed to be as a result of the excellent antioxidant properties.

Unsurprisingly, tomatoes have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. As we know cancer often starts out from an environment which is high in chronic oxidative stress and inflammation, therefore foods that have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits help reduce the risk of cancer, tomatoes are no exception.
One cancer widely reported to benefit from the consumption of tomatoes and tomato extract is prostate cancer. Benefits include reduction of developing prostate cancer, as well as the death of cancer cells already formed. Similar findings have also been observed in non-small cell lung cancer.
Ant-cancer benefits have also been found in pancreatic cancer and breast cancer. A reduction in breast cancer has been noted with increased lycopene intake.

Tomatoes rich source of lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene have been shown to have beneficial effects on health health, protecting the eyes from light-induced damage and age-related macular degeneration.

The nutrient content of tomatoes.

A closer look at the health benefits of some of the vitamins and minerals found in tomatoes.

Vitamin A
- Maintains normal skin function
- Maintains healthy vision
- Promotes a healthy functioning immune system
- Maintains a healthy neurological function
- Reduces inflammation, through fighting free radical damage

Vitamin C
- Supports the immune system
- Increases iron absorption
- Protects cells from oxidating damage
- Helps reduce the risk of heart disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Helps in the formation of collagen, carnitine, and catecholemines

Vitamin E
- Antioxidant -Protects cells from damage
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Aids in the repair of muscles
- Slows down ageing
- Balances cholesterol
- Repairs skin damage
- Balances hormones
- Thickens hair
- Improves vision
- Slows down the decline of Alzheimer's disease

Vitamin K

- Promotes normal healthy clotting
- Prevents heart disease and arterial calcification
- Improves vascular health, leading to fewer varicose veins
- Maintains healthy bones
- Acts as an adjunct to vitamin D
- Helps to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and leukaemia

- Vitamin B6

- Protects the immune system
- Maintains a healthy metabolism
- Helps to produce energy from food
- Promotes healthy hormones
- Maintains healthy cells
- Assists in the absorption of vitamin B12
- Improves neurological function
- Promotes healthy brain development
- Reduces premenstrual symptoms
- Helps to prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease

Manganese - Mineral
- Supports the formation of healthy bones through absorption of calcium
- Supports collagen production
- Helps with the control of blood sugar
- Contributes to the prevention of oxygen related damage and damage from ultraviolet (UV) light
- Antioxidant, fights free radical damage. Diets low in manganese have been linked to skin problems and asthma
- Proper functioning of the thyroid gland
- Promotes metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

- Mineral

- Supports a healthy nervous system
- Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
- Maintains a healthy kidney function
- Regulates fluid balance
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Helps to improve bone and muscle health
- Helps to reduce anxiety.

Niacin - Vitamin B3
- Helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Balances blood sugar levels
- Helps to reduce acne
- Helps improves skin health
- Supports proper neurological function
- Helps protect against Alzheimer's
- Helps to promote joint mobility
- Can help prevent erectile dysfunction
- Helps to improve digestion

Consider growing your own.