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7 health benefits of tomatoes

By Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., health.com on

Published in Health & Fitness

You might be surprised to learn that the tomato on your kitchen counter is a low-calorie package chock-full of nutrients. To reap the benefits, you can incorporate tomatoes into your diet in a number of ways, such as fresh, dried or as sauce, salsa or paste.

Try adding fresh tomatoes to omelets and salads, or serve them sliced, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and garnished with fresh basil, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Dress steamed veggies with sun-dried tomato pesto, or toss spaghetti squash or beans with tomato sauce. Add salsa to scrambled eggs or taco salad, or spoon onto cooked fish, black beans or brown rice. Tomato paste adds rich texture and flavor to veggie chili, or you can mix it into hummus, with roasted garlic and harissa.

The good news? Tomatoes aren’t just tasty, they’re healthy too. Here are seven of their biggest benefits.

Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins.

A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily recommended minimum of vitamin C. What’s more, tomatoes supply vitamin A, which supports immunity, vision and skin health, and vitamin K, which is good for your bones. Tomatoes also provide potassium, a key nutrient for heart function, muscle contractions and maintaining healthy blood pressure and fluid balance.

They protect heart health.

 

Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene (which also gives them their red color). Studies have shown that higher blood levels of lycopene are linked to lower death rates among people with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of risk factors that raise the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke).

They support healthy vision.

Lycopene is good for your eyes, too. And that’s not the only peeper-protective nutrient in tomatoes; they contain lutein and beta carotene as well. These nutrients support vision and protect against eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

They boost digestive health.

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