Sure, you’ve seen it on TV ads and grocery labels, tomatoes are good for you but you probably heard from a hypochondriac friend that tomato seeds are bad for one’s health. What’s the real deal then?
Here are 11 facts about tomatoes you probably do not know:
1. Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Scientifically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though with recent technology, tomatoes can be seedless).
2. Tomatoes can help build strong bones. The vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes are both very good for strengthening and repairing bones. The ever reliable lycopene also has been shown to improve bone mass, which is a great way to fight osteoporosis.
3. Tomatoes are a natural cancer fighter. Lycopene (again!) can reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate, cervical, mouth, pharynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal, prostate and ovarian cancer. Antioxidants found in tomatoes (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage.
4. Tomatoes can improve your vision. Tomatoes are also rich in vitamin A which can greatly improve vision and help prevent night blindness. Recent research shows that consuming tomatoes may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious and irreversible eye condition.
5. Tomatoes can also be considered as natural “beauty” fruit. The beta-carotene found in tomatoes, (also found in carrots and sweet potatoes) helps protect skin against sun damage. The lycopene in tomatoes also makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles. The vitamin A found in tomatoes also work to make hair strong and shiny.
6. Tomatoes are natural pain relievers. Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are known anti-inflammatory agents which reduces the pain in chronic inflammation. Many commercial drugs that fight pain are actually anti-inflammatory drugs.
7. Tomatoes can help you lose weight. Tomatoes have a relatively high water content, which makes them a filling food. It can fill you up fast without adding a lot of calories or fat.
8. Though tomatoes are packed with health benefits, those who are already suffering from kidney problems should avoid or restrict their consumption of tomatoes. Tomato seeds are harmful for the kidneys as they are very high in oxilates, which can lead to the accumulation of calcium in the body, resulting in kidney stones. Therefore, people who already suffer from kidney stones or are more prone to developing kidney stones should stay away from tomato seeds and tomato based products.
9. Can tomato seeds cause appendicitis? This is just a myth that has no scientific backing. Appendicitis is a condition caused when the appendix is inflamed and infected which can be the result of an infection or obstruction caused by hardened mucus or fecal matter. Tomato seeds have a gooey texture and are a little hard to digest but tomato seeds by themselves have no role to play in causing this problem.
10. If you have Diverticulosis (infection of the diverticula – ‘outpouchings’ wherein the inner lining of the large intestine bulges out through the outer muscular layer, then check with your doctor. While some doctors say that tomato seeds are harmless because a diet consisting of high fiber and good roughage should flush away small seeds from the intestine; others feel that fruits that have such small seeds should be avoided as they get stuck in the pouches and result in inflammation. Some recent findings reiterate that seeds in zucchini, tomatoes, raspberries, cucumbers and strawberries, as also poppy seeds, that may be included in your diet for diverticulitis, are generally harmless. Thus check with your doctor when dealing with tomato seeds and diverticulitis.
11. Do fresh tomatoes have more nutrients than sun-dried tomatoes (which everyone’s so crazy about) ? Raw tomatoes contain more of certain antioxidants than sun-dried tomatoes, while sun-dried tomatoes are higher in others. Vitamin E is significantly higher in raw tomatoes but sun dried tomatoes have higher lycopene content (20% higher compared to fresh tomatoes). Vitamin C is also added to preserved tomates so sun dried tomatoes generally have a higher Vitamin C content. Vitamin A potency is the same, though, for both raw and sun dried tomatoes.