We often wonder why the Mediterranean diet is considered the healthiest. But the simple answer lies in the fact that it contains a large amount of tomatoes. These are considered a rich source of vitamin K and antioxidants, but there is a long list of its benefits that can add to your daily health regimen and protect you against a number of diseases. The substance called lycopene found in tomatoes gives them their bright red color and helps protect them from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In the same way, it can help protect your cells from damage. Tomatoes also contain potassium, vitamins B and E, and other major nutrients.
Lycopene is a powerful nutrient because it is an antioxidant that fights chronic disease. In the body, lycopene is primarily stored in the liver, adrenal glands, and prostate, and can also be found in other parts of the body like the brain and skin. As we age or develop chronic diseases, the bioavailability of lycopene decreases. It is important to continuously consume lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes to provide our body with a stable source. Lycopene has been proven to have anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties. Additionally, canned tomatoes have been shown to have a higher lycopene content than their fresh counterparts. This is due to the heating process that tomatoes go through during the canning process, as it activates lycopene and allows your body to absorb and use it more easily.
Tomatoes are also highly valued for their many antioxidant properties due to beta-carotene, lutein, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins.
There are different types and sizes of tomatoes, and all over the world they are prepared or cooked in very different ways. The benefits may also depend on its form of consumption. So while tomato soup, juice, and purees can help you manage your weight, raw tomatoes can help you fight dehydration. The health benefits can also vary from one type of vegetable to another. For example, cherry tomatoes have a higher beta-carotene content than regular tomatoes. But the overall nutritional quotient can be summarized as follows:
Vitamin C: 17.1mg
Vitamin K: 9.88 mcg
A VITAMIN-BASED SUPERFOOD
Vitamin C in tomatoes acts as an antioxidant and is important for skin, bones and connective tissues. It also promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and maintaining strong bones in the elderly. Folate helps produce DNA, the building block of the human body. It also helps form red blood cells to prevent anemia and works with vitamins B12 and C to help the body break down, use, and create new proteins and tissues. The tomato is rich in potassium, a mineral necessary for the formation of proteins in the body, including the muscles; break down and use carbohydrates; and regulate heart rate and pH balance.
HOW MANY TOMATOES SHOULD YOU HAVE?
The amount of potassium you can receive each day depends on the stage of your kidney disease or the type of dialysis you receive. Tomatoes contain oxalates, which are responsible for the formation of kidney stones. What people don’t usually understand is that this amount of oxalates in tomatoes is not enough to cause kidney stones because 100g of tomatoes only contain about 5mg of oxalates. Additionally, people diagnosed with kidney stones are advised to limit and not completely cut out tomatoes from their diet.
MULTI DISEASE FIGHTERS
Arterial pressure: Low sodium intake helps control your blood pressure. Since tomatoes are rich in potassium, they reduce the amount of sodium in the body by making it easier for the kidneys to eliminate extra amounts.
Cardiopathy: Tomatoes are high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline, all of which are beneficial for heart health. A key dietary reform to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease is to increase potassium intake and reduce salt intake.
Diabetes control: According to studies, people with type 1 diabetes, who eat a diet high in fiber, may experience a drop in blood sugar. At the same time, people with type 2 diabetes may have better blood sugar, fat, and insulin levels. You can find about two grams of fiber in a cup of cherry tomatoes. Plus, they have a GI of less than 15, making them a low GI food and a great choice for diabetes. People with diabetes should eat foods with a GI of less than 55. They are low in calories and can maintain a healthy weight.
Prevents Constipation: Tomato is a laxative fruit. Consuming meals rich in water and fiber, such as tomatoes, can promote hydration and promote regular bowel movements. Insoluble fiber carries food particles out of the body adding more bulk to the stool. They provide about 10% of the daily fiber intake, which improves digestion and intestinal transit.
Intestinal health: In a new study, researchers examined the effects of a tomato-rich diet on the gut microbiome using an animal model. The researchers fed the piglets a tomato-enriched diet for 14 days and found that their gut bacteria balance shifted to a healthier and more favorable profile.
Benefits for the skin: Tomatoes have acidic properties and are rich in potassium and vitamin C. These nutrients improve dull skin and provide radiance. They treat skin disorders associated with aging and UV exposure, making tomatoes an excellent skin replenisher.
WHO SHOULD LIMIT THE USE OF TOMATOES?
CRM/Transplantation: Most people with early-stage CKD or a kidney transplant don’t have to limit tomatoes because of potassium. Only if your potassium is high should it be limited.
Hemodialysis (3 times/week): Potassium can be a problem depending on how much you eat. For example, one or two slices of raw tomatoes contain much less potassium than one cup of cooked tomatoes.
Kidney stones: Eating tomatoes will not affect the formation of kidney stones.
HOW TO EAT TOMATOES?
Cooking tomatoes, like in spaghetti sauce, is best because it improves heart health and boosts its ability to fight cancer. All this despite losing vitamin C during the cooking process, say Cornell food scientists. Cooking dramatically increases levels of beneficial compounds called phytochemicals.
WHY REMOVE THE SKIN?
It is recommended to remove the skin to eliminate lectins, which are generally difficult for the body to digest, often causing problems with intestinal irritability. Research also indicates that lectins can lead to digestive upset, stomach pain, discomfort, and vomiting, so it’s best to avoid it.
DO YOU NEED TO DESEED THEM? CAN I HAVE IF I HAVE URIC ACID?
Tomato seeds are small but mighty because they’re packed with the goodness of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Just like the fruit, the seeds are also beneficial for skin, heart, weight management, and immunity. Apart from this, tomato seeds are good for digestion and are loaded with digestive fiber and amino acids, which help in better nutrient absorption, improve metabolism and gut health.
But people with gastrointestinal issues should avoid consumption of raw tomatoes or tomato seeds as their acidic nature can trigger heartburn and adversely affect the digestive system.
Tomatoes are low in purine, so you can have them if your uric acid is high, but sometimes it causes inflammation in some people. This group may lack tomatoes.
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