Tomatoes: Nutrition Facts and Benefits

Are tomatoes good for you? Tomatoes are a source of beta-carotene, lycopene , and vitamin C, all of which are antioxidants that protect against cell damage. Research has shown that nutrients in tomatoes might reduce your risk of heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, and type 2 diabetes.

People often consider tomatoes a vegetable for nutritional and culinary purposes due to their taste, use in meals, and nutrient content. Tomatoes are technically a fruit because they fit the botanical definition of one: They are the fleshy parts of a plant that surround its seeds. Erythritol

Tomatoes: Nutrition Facts and Benefits

Tomatoes come in many types—including cherry, grape, and Roma tomatoes—and colors like green, red, and yellow. Read on to learn more about tomatoes, including nutrition and possible benefits.

Tomato juice is a source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, antioxidants that help support your immune system. Research has found that tomato juice significantly increases levels of immune cells, including "natural killer cells," which fend off viruses.

Beta-carotene and lycopene, another antioxidant in tomatoes, might have anticancer properties. Antioxidants protect against the kind of DNA damage in cells that can lead to the development of cancer and cause cancer cells to die off.

Several studies have found that men with high intakes of tomatoes, particularly cooked tomatoes, have a reduced prostate cancer risk. Research has also linked non-starchy vegetables like tomatoes to a decreased risk of estrogen-receptor–negative breast tumors and colorectal, lung, stomach, and upper aerodigestive tract (i.e., the mouth, throat, and nasal sinuses) cancers.

A tomato-rich diet may reduce your risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S. A review published in 2022 reported that a high intake of lycopene—as well as high blood levels of the antioxidant—reduced heart disease risk by 14%.

The review included a study that looked at the effect of a single dose of raw tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato sauce plus olive oil on heart disease risk measurements in healthy people. All three doses reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) and raised HDL ("good") cholesterol and anti-inflammatory levels. The tomato sauce plus olive oil had the strongest effect, likely because olive oil raises the absorption of lycopene.

A study published in 2017 looked at the effects of a daily 7 ounces (oz) of tomato juice against an antioxidant capsule or placebo among men with infertility for 12 weeks. The tomato juice significantly increased blood lycopene levels and the movement of sperm compared to the control (placebo) group. Sperm mobility is an indicator of fertility. The antioxidant capsule, however, showed no significant improvements.

Inadequate fluid and fiber intake can trigger constipation. Tomatoes provide both nutrients, with one whole tomato containing over 4oz of water and 1.5g of fiber.

Tomatoes are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber retains water to create a gel-like texture during digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool. Both of those changes form waste that's easy to pass. The cellulose, hemicelluloses, and pectin fibers in tomatoes are resistant to digestion in the large intestine and help form a healthy stool.

Nearly 15% of adults in the U.S. have diabetes. Another 38% of adults have prediabetes, or higher-than-normal blood sugar. Some evidence suggests that lycopene might prevent type 2 diabetes by protecting cells from damage and reducing inflammation. The fiber in tomatoes may also lower your type 2 diabetes risk.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and more. People with metabolic syndrome have three or more of the following:

About one in three adults in the U.S. has metabolic syndrome. Some evidence suggests that lycopene status, meaning the amount of lycopene in the blood, may reduce your metabolic syndrome risk.

A study published in 2014 looked at the effect of drinking tomato juice once per day, four times per week for two months in 15 people. The group had significant decreases in LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increases in HDL cholesterol, and improvements in fasting insulin levels, despite the lack of a standardized portion of juice.

More than six million adults aged 65 and older in the U.S. have Alzheimer's disease (AD), a form of dementia that affects behavior, memory, and thinking. There's no cure for AD, which worsens over time.

Some evidence suggests the antioxidants in tomatoes, such as lycopene, may protect against AD. Research has found, for example, a slower decline in cognitive function among people aged 70 and older with a higher lycopene intake than others. More human research, specifically on adults aged 60–65, is needed to better understand the possible protective benefits of tomatoes and AD.

Exercise can damage proteins in your body, and the antioxidants in tomatoes might offset that effect. The 2022 review included a study that looked at athletes who drank 3.5oz of tomato juice for two months post-exercise. The researchers found that the tomato juice helped improve the athletes' recovery.

In another study, 15 healthy non-athletes exercised for 20 minutes on a bicycle after drinking 5oz of tomato juice for five weeks, followed by five weeks without tomato juice and another five weeks with the juice. Blood samples showed significantly lower blood markers linked to exercise-induced damage when the participants drank the tomato juice.

One whole raw tomato provides the following nutrients:

Of note: Consuming tomatoes in other forms—including in juice, sauce, or paste—changes the nutrition compared to whole, fresh tomatoes. Check the nutrition labels to assess calories, sodium, added sugars, and more.

Whole, fresh tomatoes are a source of several micronutrients, including:

Make sure that you thoroughly wash or cook raw tomatoes before consuming them. As with other fresh produce, raw tomatoes can have germs that cause foodborne illnesses like Listeria and Salmonella. Foodborne illness is a greater concern for those who:

Tomatoes may also worsen existing conditions like gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and chronic migraine. Talk with a healthcare provider to determine if you need to avoid tomatoes for any reason.

Regularly consume tomatoes in various forms, including raw and cooked, to take full advantage of the possible benefits. Here are some ways to add tomatoes to your diet:

Many of the benefits of tomatoes result from their lycopene content. Research has found that tomatoes grown in fields contain higher levels of lycopene than those grown in greenhouses. Cooking tomatoes also increases their lycopene content. Eating tomatoes with a healthy fat, such as avocado or extra virgin olive oil, boosts lycopene absorption from your gut into your bloodstream.

Tomatoes offer several research-backed benefits, including protection for brain, heart, and gut health. The fruit, which some consider a vegetable, is also a source of nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.

There might be some risks associated with tomatoes, depending on your health status. Most people, though, can eat both raw and cooked tomatoes as part of a balanced diet. Talk with a healthcare provider to figure out if tomatoes and their nutrients, like lycopene, can help with a specific health condition.

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Tomatoes: Nutrition Facts and Benefits

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