July 22, 2024
Nutrient Amount
Calories 22
Protein 1.08 grams (g)
Fat (lipids) 0.246 g
Carbohydrate 4.78 g
Dietary fiber 1.48 g
Calcium 12.3 milligrams (mg)
Iron 0.333 mg
Magnesium 13.5 mg
Potassium 292 mg
Vitamin C 16.9 mg
Folate 18.4 micrograms (mcg)
Vitamin A 1,020 IU (international units)
Vitamin K 9.72 mcg
Lycopene 3,160 mcg

Tomatoes also contain about 116 g of water plus several electrolyte nutrients, which can help keep you hydrated.

Benefits and Reasons to Eat Tomatoes

Tomatoes offer multiple health benefits due to their vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds. Bioactive compounds include lycopene, quercetin, resveratrol, and luteolin.

Cardiovascular Disease

Some abundant minerals in tomatoes may prevent heart disease by regulating blood pressure, blood-clotting, and muscle contraction. Antioxidants and small molecules called phenolic compounds, such as quercetin and kaempferol, can also prevent cardiovascular damage and high blood pressure (hypertension). The dietary fiber content of tomatoes is also beneficial for heart health.

Cancer

Research shows that regularly eating high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, prevents the growth of cancer cells.

Lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, can help treat or lower the risk of several types of cancer, including:

Phytosterols in tomatoes may also help prevent or treat colon, prostate, and breast cancers. Eating large amounts of tomatoes can protect against digestive system cancers. In one study, 60% of colon and rectal cancer patients improved after eating high amounts of tomatoes.

Neurodegenerative Disease

Antioxidants in tomatoes can protect from neurodegenerative diseases by preventing the death of brain cells (neurons). Tomatoes may, therefore, delay the development or progression of diseases such as:

  • Alzheimer’s disease (brain disorder that impacts the ability to think and remember)
  • Parkinson’s disease (neurological disorder characterized by tremors)
  • Cerebral ischemia (insufficient blood flow to the brain)

Diabetes

Components of the tomato, such as antioxidants, dietary fiber, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, are believed to help against diabetes, including:

Lycopene is believed to increase insulin levels in your blood, which is a hormone that lowers blood sugar. It also reduces angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity, which can indicate diabetes and complications of diabetes.

Lycopene may also protect against kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy) by improving kidney function. In people with diabetes who ovulate, lycopene may also protect the ovaries.

Quercetin helps regulate blood sugars, protects the liver, and reduces common diabetes symptoms such as joint pain, irritation, and numbness. Kaempferol improves insulin signaling and reduces inflammatory lesions in liver cells.

Gestational Diabetes and Tomatoes

In people with gestational diabetes (high blood glucose levels during pregnancy), lutein, a compound in tomatoes, has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the baby during childbirth.

Eye Disease

Carrots have long been associated with good eye health because of high levels of carotenoids. Tomatoes have high carotenoid levels as well. Research shows they can help prevent:

Raw vs. Cooked Tomatoes: What’s More Nutritious?

There’s no clear winner regarding whether raw or cooked tomatoes are better for you. Cooking them can alter which nutritional elements are available for your body to absorb and use.

Since there are many types and cooking methods for tomatoes, it’s hard to know if, for example, a Roma tomato offers more benefits when it’s eaten raw, steamed, or cooked down into a sauce. It’s good to eat them in a variety of ways.

Also, drink tomato juice. It has twice as many antioxidants as a raw or cooked tomato daily and may also help with inflammation. Tomato juice concentrate is rich in potassium (461 mg), which may protect your heart.

Types of Tomatoes

Common types of tomatoes are:

  • Plum tomatoes: Mild flavor and good for canning at home, includes Roma tomatoes
  • Rutgers: A rich and full-bodied flavor, a favorite with gardeners, includes heirloom tomatoes
  • Bush early-girl hybrid: Slightly acidic taste makes them popular in sauces
  • Beefsteak: A popular staple, the tomatoes are mild and sweet-tasting
  • Cherry tomatoes: Small, round, sweet tomatoes often eaten in salads (gold nugget tomatoes)
  • Grape tomatoes: Small and oval-shaped, a type of patio plum tomato with a well-balanced flavor

Before growing your tomatoes, research the varieties you like that suit your climate.

Why Are Tomatoes a Fruit?

While it’s generally used in food like a vegetable, the tomato is botanically classified as a fruit because it contains seeds and grows from the plant’s flowers.

Pesticides, Local Tomatoes, and Organic Seal

If you’re concerned about pesticides and other chemicals on your tomatoes, look for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal. That means the agency has certified that the produce was grown in soil with no prohibited substances applied for at least three years before harvesting.

Most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are on the prohibited list. Other synthetic products must be approved based on their effects on your health and the environment. Also, the organic seal means the food is not genetically modified. 

Summary

Tomatoes are a good source of nutrients and compounds that benefit your health. Research suggests they can help prevent and/or treat many illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and eye diseases that can impair vision.

The nutritional profile varies by type of tomato, whether it’s raw or cooked, and how it’s cooked. Much remains to be learned in this area, so experts recommend eating tomatoes in various ways. Many types of tomatoes are available to buy or grow, each with unique properties.

Buying certified organic tomatoes can assure you that they were grown and handled to minimize their exposure to harmful chemicals.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  10. Myvision.org. Beta carotene & your vision: Does it actually help?

  11. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Age-related macular degeneration.

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By Adrienne Dellwo

Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.

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