Tomatoes are considered a pharmaceutical miracle with many therapeutic effects hidden under the semi-transparent red peel. Below we’ll try to shed light on them and to find out why they are considered a miracle of nature...
To begin with, we cannot ignore the historical path passed by tomatoes, which originate in South America, and have been cultivated on the European continent for hundreds of years due to their sweet taste and many health benefits. The first tomato ripened three thousand years ago in Peru, under the hot sun of the Cordillera Andes. In the XIXth century, tomatoes became a common food, so that now, at the beginning of the new millennium, they acquired a new fame, but this time not as food, but as a medicine. Large studies, conducted for the first time among tens of thousands of subjects, have definitely proven the therapeutic effects of tomatoes. The results of the studies are really amazing: tomatoes prevent and cure ailments for which, after decades of studies, the official medicine has not found a cure.
Thus, tomato is committed to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry due to its content of lycopene, with its stronger antioxidant effect than the famous vitamin C, extremely effectively protecting the body from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, degenerative processes, metabolic disorders, various poisonings (including with tobacco). No less than 90% of the tomato is biological water, which is easily assimilated by the human body, making of it an ideal support for the administration of a collection of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other active substances of tomatoes. The most important vitamins in tomatoes are the vitamin A (important for eyes and endocrine processes), the range of vitamins B (B1, B2, B5, B6 - protectors of the nervous and bone systems, metabolism), vitamin C (necessary for the cardiovascular, nervous and endocrine systems), vitamin E (the vitamin of youth and fertility) and vitamin K (important for the synthesis of certain figurative elements of the blood). Then, tomatoes contain significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and selenium, as well as organic acids important for the digestive system. According to WH Food, only 100 grams of tomatoes provide 40% of the daily need for vitamin C, 15% of the daily dose of vitamin A, 8% of the amount of potassium and 10% of the recommended amount of iron.
The variety of tomatoes
There are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes in the world of different colors, including pink, red, black, yellow and white. Annually more than 60,000 million tons of tomatoes are produced.
Tomato, a nutritious fruit commonly used as a vegetable, is a blessing of nature, which became known due to its incredible phytochemical benefits. Naturally this vegetable has low amounts of sodium, saturated fats, cholesterol or calories, so it is recommended in a healthy diet and weight-loss regimens, helping to regulate body weight and reduce blood lipids.
Recent studies show that tomatoes are a phenomenal health remedy
The interest of the medical world in the positive effects of tomato consumption is mainly due to the content of lycopene, the miracle antioxidant that helps the body fighting against the destructive action of free radicals, which attack healthy cells and eventually cause various cancers.
- Studies conducted at Harvard University, and published in the prestigious American medical Journal of the National Cancer Institute, show certainly that in men who frequently eat tomatoes, the risk of prostate cancer is reduced by about 40%. The study is one of the largest and best conducted in the world, and covered no less than 47,000 (!) people, who were followed for more than a decade. The share, in which tomatoes manage to block this increasingly common form of cancer, is enormous, if we consider that through modern means of cancer treatment, the cure rate is only 30-40%.
- A study of the value of tomatoes for health has been carried out by the universities of Manchester and Newcastle. Processed tomatoes contain more lycopene than raw ones. Processing helps to release lycopene. Raw tomatoes eaten with a little fat, such as olive oil, help lycopene to be better absorbed by the body.
- Another study has proven that the daily intake of 250 ml of tomato juice has significantly reduced thrombosis due to low sodium levels.
- A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition has shown that the daily consumption of tomato juice can reduce blood levels of TNF-alpha by 34% (TNF-alpha causes inflammation; high levels have been found in people with chronic, degenerative diseases such as heart diseases, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease). MahsaGhavipour, Ahmad Saedisomeolia, MahmoudDjalali, GitiSotoudeh, Mohammad RezaEshraghyan, Ali MalekshahiMoghadam Lisa G. Wood. “Tomato juice consumption reduces systemic inflammation in overweight and obese females.” British Journal of Nutrition, 24 Oct. 2012.
- Tomato juice consumption may suppress human lymphocyte DNA damage caused by radiation, but further examination is required. Reactive oxygenspecies (ROS) mediate much of the DNA damage caused by ionizingradiation. Amongcarotenoids, lycopeneand β-carotene, present in tomato juice, are known to bestrong radical scavengers. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of tomato juice intake on the levels of DNA damage and oxidative stress in human whole blood in ducedby in vitro exposure to X-rays. (Possible benefits of tomato juice consumption: a pilot study on irradiated human lymphocytes from healthy donors, Nutrition Journal. 2017).
- According to Dr. John Erdman, professor emeritus of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois: “There’s very good, strong, epidemiological support for increased consumption of tomato products and lower incidence of prostate cancer”. In young men, beta-carotene-rich nutrition may play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to another study carried out by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Beta-carotene consumption has also been shown to be inversely related to the development of colon cancer among the Japanese population (due to high fiber intake). Increased consumption of tomatoes may also help to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, as shown by a study carried out by the University of Montreal, in which the researchers found that lycopene is connected with a 31% reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer (in groups of men who had the highest and lowest levels of this carotenoid). According to the American Cancer Society, certain studies have shown that people on diets rich in tomatoes are at a lower risk of certain cancers, especially prostate, lungs and stomach; however, the exact role of lycopene in preventing/treating this disease is not known. A recent study showed that the risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women is reduced following a diet rich in tomatoes due to high levels of adiponectin (a fat and blood sugar regulator).
- The latest findings on the benefits of tomato carotenoids, including lycopene, suggest that they may play a role in lung and vision function in healthy people,” says Daniel Nixon, MD, president of the American Health Foundation, and director of the Foundation’s Cancer Center. “Other studies presented further add to our understanding of the benefits that tomato-based foods may have for protection against cancers in specific organs, such as the prostate and lungs, and more recently to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Therapeutic effects on the body
Pregnancy and breast-feeding — an adequate intake of folic acid is essential for pregnant women to protect them against neural tube defects.
Depression — the folic acid in the composition can help treat depression by preventing excess of homocysteine from forming in the body. Excess of homocysteine interferes with the production of “feel-good” hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Maintaining skin health — tomatoes help the skin to maintain its aesthetic appearance. Beta carotene in these vegetables has protective actions on the skin, against the harmful action of UV radiation. Also, lycopene in tomatoes slows down the aging process of the skin and reduces the risk of skin cancer.
Strengthening of the bone system — the vitamins K and Ca, two nutrients provided by tomatoes, are excellent factors for strengthening and regenerating bone tissue. Due to the vitamin K (18% of RDA in a cup of tomatoes), bone health and blood vessel flexibility is supported; deficiency of this vitamin can be an adverse effect of long-term antibiotic use. The vitamin K is stored in the body fat and helps assimilate calcium into bones, and also acts as a clotting agent. Lycopene in tomatoes has been shown to be useful in improving bone mass, which is an excellent way to prevent osteoporosis. Relatively recent researches have shown that tomato also contains a cortisone-like substance. Repeated treatment with raw tomatoes shows strong joint anti-inflammatory effects and is useful for people with rheumatism.
Reduction of the risk of cancer — lycopen has been associated in several specialized studies with a low risk of prostate cancer, cervical, oral, pharyngeal and esophageal, stomach, colon, rectal and ovarian cancer. Antioxidants in tomatoes, especially vitamins A and C, fight against the damage caused by free radicals to the body's healthy cells.
Regulation of blood sugar level — tomatoes are a rich source of chromium, a mineral that regulates blood sugar level and inhibits the appetite for sweet foods. Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who had a nutrition rich in tomatoes, have shown lower blood sugar levels, and those with type 2 diabetes have shown improved blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels, possibly due to the chromium content (controls body sugar level).
Improvement of vision — vitamin A in tomatoes can improve vision accuracy and prevent vision problems. A scientific approach has shown that regular consumption of tomatoes reduces the risk of macular degeneration, which is a serious and irreversible eye disease. High levels of vitamin E, C and copper are also beneficial to eye health, and zeaxanthin, lutein and lycopene protect eyes from UV rays.
Prevention of kidney and biliary diseases — doctors have found a direct connection between the consumption of tomatoes and the low likelyhood to develop kidney stones and gallstones, especially if tomatoes are eaten without seeds.
Reduction of the intensity of chronic pain – people, who suffer from recurrent chronic pain caused by diseases such as arthritis, can find relief from consuming tomatoes every day. Bioflavonoids and carotenoids in these fruits are effective anti-inflammatory agents, acting as natural analgesics.
Loss of excess weight — as they contain a large amount of fiber and water, tomatoes also help to lose excess weight, especially since they are poor in saturated fat and calories. Thus, they quickly induce the feeling of satiety and improve digestion, helping to detoxify the body through their fluids. In addition, tomatoes stimulate the production of a hormone called leptin, which is responsible for controlling appetite, regulating metabolism and reducing excess body weight.
Support for the digestive system — tomatoes keep the digestive system healthy by preventing both constipation and diarrhea. They also prevent jaundice and effectively eliminate toxins from the body. A healthy amount of fiber stimulates peristalsis and supports the secretion of gastric and digestive juices. This regulates bowel movements, improving the health of the digestive system and thus PREVENTS diseases such as colorectal cancer.
Support for the cardiovascular system – due to vitamin B and potassium in tomatoes, they are effective in reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Therefore, according to Dr. Mark Houston, professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and director at the Institute of Hypertension in Tennessee, the inclusion of tomatoes in the diet effectively prevents heart attacks, strokes, and heart problems. In one study, people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium every day, showed a 49% reduced risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Potassium is also associated with a lower risk of heart attack, protection against muscle loss, preservation of bone density and reduction of kidney stones.
Reduction of the risk of high blood pressure - eating one tomato a day reduces the risk of high blood pressure, and this is due to the high potassium content. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means it lowers blood pressure in blood vessels and arteries, increases blood circulation and reduces stress on the heart by eliminating high blood pressure.
Prevention of acidosis - the human body is made to maintain a pH of 7,365. However, due to the unbalanced, sedentary lifestyle and irregular meals, our body has a higher concentration of acid. This can cause acidosis, congestion and reflux. Usually, the pH balance can be maintained by including calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Tomato seeds help us maintain the necessary pH balance and therefore prevent acidosis.
Did you know that...
- Raw tomatoes are pure health, but unlike other foods, they keep their benefits if cooked? Thermal preparation releases even more beneficial substances, which would normally be blocked in the peel that the human intestine cannot digest.
- There a Tomato Museum, which was opened on 25 September 2010? It has seven thematic sections that reveal the history of tomatoes, their varieties, areas and techniques of production, processing and packaging, related professions and where cultivation methods are described, as well as health benefits of tomatoes. There are also displayed quotes, exhibited paintings and recipes. At the Museum, the story of tomatoes is depicted in historical stages and includes devices, tools and machines used to harvest and can them. The Museum's valuables also include a collection of over a hundred cans of tomatoes, as well as various forms of can openers. At the Museum, visitors discover the story of this kitchen tool, which was invented in 1855.
- Botanically, tomato is a fruit and the most popular in the world? In 1893, the Supreme Court of the United States of America unanimously ruled that tomatoes should be considered vegetables when collecting customs duties. In 2001, the European Union officially decided that tomatoes were a fruit, not a vegetable.
Certainly the therapeutic effects of tomatoes will continue to impress scientists for a long time, having rightly the role of revolutionizing the medicine. While the French called it “the apple of love”, the Germans “the apple of paradise”, the famous Niezenbergius in “Historia naturae” designates tomatoes as a medicinal plant and finds that it is used to “praise” the taste of food, and all we have left is to enjoy it and take full advantage of the authentic source of health.