Fruits and vegetables are generally low in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol, and high in fiber, vitamins, and health-promoting “phytochemicals,” or plant chemicals.
Research is only just beginning to discover all of the benefits that these phytochemicals impart, but studies have shown that diets containing several daily servings of fruits and vegetables are associated with lower risk for several chronic—and deadly—diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Some of the most exciting research on tomatoes and health has focused on the role of tomatoes in cancer protection. The best evidence so far has shown diets rich in tomatoes and tomato products to be associated with lower risk for prostate cancer.
A landmark study in this area followed more than 47,000 male health professionals aged 40-75 for six years and found that the men who ate the most weekly servings of tomatoes and tomato products—including tomato sauce and tomato juice—had a much lower risk for prostate cancer compared with the men who ate the fewest servings. Since these results were published in 1995 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, additional studies have also found an association between tomato-rich diets and lowered risk for prostate cancer.
Additional research had suggested that tomatoes may also be protective against other forms of cancer, including stomach, lung, ovarian and breast, but more research is necessary in these areas to confirm the results.
While the research continues, experts recommend eating several servings of fruits and vegetables every day, including tomatoes, to potentially protect against cancer.
Tomatoes & Disease Prevention
Health organizations and experts around the world agree that one of the most important things people can do to protect their health is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are generally low in calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol, and high in fiber, vitamins and health promoting “phytochemicals,” or plant chemicals.
Research is only just beginning to discover all of the benefits that these phytochemicals impart, but studies have show that diets containing several daily servings of fruits and vegetables are associated with lower risk for several chronic—and deadly—diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Heart disease is one of the top killers of both men and women. Fortunately, lifestyle factors, including diet, may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Research suggests that tomatoes may play a role. One study included more than 1,300 subjects from ten European countries and found that those with the highest levels of lycopene in their bodies had the lowest risk for heart attack.
Other studies are finding that tomatoes may contain substances that inhibit the formation of clogged arteries. While more research is needed to confirm these results, tomatoes can certainly be a tasty part of a heart-healthy diet.
CTF quick facts:
Tomatoes may actually protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The lycopene found inside tomatoes might help your body protect itself against the sun’s rays by neutralizing harmful free radicals. But don’t rub them on your skin! Eat them! You need to consume tomatoes to get the benefits.
At only 35 calories, one medium tomato provides 35% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C and 14% of the DV of beta-carotene. Tomatoes are cholesterol and sodium free.
Tomatoes are low in calories, yet packed with nutrition, including Vitamins A and C and the antioxidant nutrient lycopene. In addition to giving tomatoes their vibrant color, lycopene may help protect against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
While eating tomatoes won't magically melt the pounds away, they may be a useful part of a weight-control program. That’s because they’re naturally low in calories, yet tasty and satisfying. Plus, unlike many other “diet foods,” they are packed with nutrition.