According to Heather Mangieri, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian and nutritionist, health author, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Tomatoes are low in calories, (about 25 calories per one medium-size tomato) yet filled with nutrition”. They contain the carotenoid lycopene, which gives tomatoes their vibrant red color and they are a good source of several vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that play a role in disease prevention. So, the redder the tomatoes, the higher the amount of lycopene. Thus cooking tomatoes increases the amount of lycopene you absorb. Tomatoes are high in fiber and a good source of vitamin A, C, B2, folate, and chromium. According to an article in Pharmacognosy Review, The vitamins act as antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals that cause cell damage and disruption that can contribute to diseases. In addition to that, tomatoes are also rich in potassium, which is associated with heart health and proper nerve and muscle function.
There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes and can bear different colors such as pink, yellow, orange, green, purple, brown, or black, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. Among the largest varieties are beefsteak and beef master tomatoes. They now make up the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions.
1/2 cup of raw red tomatoes contain the following:
- Calories: 18 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 3.89 g
- Fats: 0.2 g
- Protein: 0.88 g
- Fiber: 1.2 g
- Sugars (glucose and fructose): 2.63 g
Why are tomatoes an ideal choice for diabetics?
Tomatoes are not high in sugar and similar to carrots, they are considered a non-starchy vegetable in meal planning for diabetes. This, therefore, implies that the amount of sugar served is minimal. About 140 grams of tomato has a Glycemic index (GI) of less than 15, which makes it a low GI food and excellent food for diabetics. The glycemic index is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods. Any food that has a GI score lower than 55 is good for diabetics.
Also, Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.) have low-calories, which help you keep your weight in check. And with the addition of the abundance in antioxidants like ascorbic acid, flavonoids (i.e., kaempferol), folic acid, lycopene, β-carotene, tocopherol, other small bioactive molecules, key minerals like potassium and magnesium, this composition serves a very favorable condition for diabetics. So a diet rich in vegetables such as tomatoes, as research affirms, is most likely to dwindle the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Tomatoes offer a bundle of health benefits as seen below and What makes tomatoes a diabetic superfood is their low carbohydrate content. People with diabetes are often requested to monitor their carbohydrate intake because carbohydrates, especially the refined kinds, get metabolized quickly and cause blood sugar spikes.
Moreover, recent works and reviews assigned by the WHO on diet rich in vegetables have provided substantial information on the effects of tomatoes, as a highly edible vegetable worldwide, and also its bioactive compounds on diabetics, particularly those with type 2 diabetes.
Lycopene and Diabetes.
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables. Lycopene-rich foods have significant antioxidant health benefits including protection against cardiovascular diseases, several metabolic disorders, and protection against the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Some studies have also shown that lycopene has the ability to diminish the events that cause hyperglycemia in diabetics, thus preventing the complications of diabetes.
Research carried out by Figueiredo et al., (2020) shows that when lycopene is combined with metformin, the effect is beneficial. The combination improves glucose tolerance and lipid profile and lessens biomarkers of oxidative damage. The combined therapy also reduced blood glucose levels after meals and dropped plasma cholesterol levels
How can you include tomatoes in our diet plan as a diabetic?
The best part about tomatoes is that you can have them both raw and in cooked forms. Just choose fresh tomatoes and cut them up into small pieces and enjoy them with a sprinkle of rock salt. You can soup them or throw them in salads and sprouts too. Tomatoes make for a great sandwich filling and a great topping for veggies and chicken.
Tomatoes and weight loss.
Tomatoes are a great source of protein, minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins. Not only this, but tomatoes also make your skin smooth and give it a lustrous texture. But apart from all these health benefits, another surprising benefit of tomato is that it can help you lose weight. So for those who want to cut those extra inches and look gorgeous without trying too hard, tomato is the answer.
Apart from being rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, tomatoes are low in calories. So, consuming tomatoes will not only make you feel full but will also cut down your calorie intake and help you create that calorie deficit required to lose weight.
Studies have confirmed that consuming tomatoes in any form increases metabolism. According to a study on middle-aged women, scientists discovered that consuming tomatoes increased the Resting Energy Expenditure of these women. This means the number of calories required while being at rest also increased. It is therefore advisable to eat the right food and do exercises to lose weight. Tomatoes or any other healthy fruit or vegetable can only aid a weight loss program and not completely replace it.
Kindly get more information on tomatoes and weight loss here.
Other Health benefits of tomatoes
A 2011 review of studies on lycopene and heart disease, published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, found that most research supports the positive relationship between lycopene intake or low-dose supplementation and reduced risk of heart disease. This is likely due to Lycopene and some other phytonutrients that can lower lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is when fats in the blood are damaged by oxygen and in excess can trigger gradual blocking of blood vessels (atherosclerosis). In addition to that, Lycopene has also been shown to result in lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess fat around the waist. It is often considered a precursor to heart disease and diabetes.
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Beta-carotene found in tomatoes may help lower the risk of this condition, at least in middle-aged and elderly men. In the study, men with the most beta-carotene intake had the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome, as well as reduced waist circumference. Scientists suspect this is the result of beta-carotene’s antioxidant activities.
Vitamin C found in tomatoes too is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. According to a study in 2015 published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they looked at more than 100,000 people and found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 15 percent lower risk of developing heart disease. Those with the highest vitamin C levels in their plasma had even more reduced rates of heart disease. Scientists then theorize that vitamin C may have cardiovascular benefits because it is an antioxidant.
Since potassium is a mineral in tomatoes, it has been found to promote vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure. One study of 12,000 adults, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium each day lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease by 37 percent and 49 percent, respectively, compared to those who took 1,793 mg per day.
In a test tube study published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, researchers found that lycopene was most effective at deactivating singlet oxygen (a harmful free radical) of all the carotenoids. This could be because lycopene has a unique molecule shape that is highly effective in deactivating free radicals.
Lycopene may promote bone health and help prevent the development of osteoporosis. According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, it was found that participants with higher levels of lycopene in their blood were less likely to experience hip or non -vertebral fractures. In addition to that, a study published in Osteoporosis International found that postmenopausal women who added lycopene to their diets for four months saw decreased bone resorption (the breakdown of bones).
Vitamin A found in tomatoes is known to be necessary for vision. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin A is required to keep the retina working correctly and for low light and color vision. It also plays a role in eye development.
They contain key carotenoids in the likes of lycopene and lutein which can safeguard your eyes against light-induced damage.
The high fiber content of tomatoes can help promote smooth digestion, healthy stool bulk, and regularity, which helps maintain colorectal health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a high-fiber diet may help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (small, painful pouches on the colon).
The high content of vitamin C and vitamin A in tomatoes is good for your skin. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which keeps your skin looking youthful and aids in wound healing, and vitamin A is a compound in retinoids, which are popular in anti-aging skin treatments.
Beta-carotene may help protect against sunburn. Researchers looked at several studies and found that participants who took beta-carotene supplements for 10 weeks had lower rates of sunburn according to a meta-analysis published in Photochemistry and Photobiology.
Much research has focused on the relationship between reduced prostate cancer risk and tomatoes. A large-scale study of nearly 50,000 men published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found an inverse relationship between lycopene from tomatoes and prostate cancer risk. Men with the highest levels of lycopene were 21 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those with the lowest lycopene levels.
Another study published in PloS One found that alpha-tomatine, a saponin phytonutrient in tomatoes, was associated with the death of prostate cancer cells in a laboratory setting. Alpha-tomatine was also associated with anti-growth effects in non-small cell lung cancer cells, according to a study in Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Lycopene may decrease stroke risk, at least in men. According to a 12-year study published in Neurology, middle-aged men with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood had a 55 percent reduced rate of any kind of stroke. They had a 59 percent reduced rate of strokes from blood clots, the most common kind.
According to some small-scale studies, lycopene content in tomatoes may help asthma sufferers. One study such studied was published in Free Radical Research, which found that taking tomato extract reduced lung inflammation. Another study published in Allergy found that a daily dose of lycopene for a week reduced exercise-induced asthma in 55 percent of participants. Researchers suspect this was because of an antioxidant effect in the lungs.
Nerve, muscle, and cell health.
“Tomatoes are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps nerves and muscles communicate,” said Mangieri. Shew further explained that potassium helps regulates your heartbeat and helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells.