Tomatoes are popular in many cuisines worldwide, from Italian to American and Mexican. Tomatoes are a perfect fruit for the ketogenic diet because they’re low in carbs, but rich in nutrients. Let’s talk about the benefits of tomatoes.
Tomato Nutrition Information
The tomato is native to South America. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is actually a fruit from the nightshade family, but it’s generally prepared and eaten like a vegetable. Tomatoes come in a variety of vibrant colors, including yellow, orange, purple, and green. Many subspecies of tomatoes exist with varying flavors and shapes.
Tomatoes have around 95% water and 5% fiber and carbohydrates. Simple sugars like fructose and glucose make up around 70% of the carb content. Tomatoes are a great source of fiber giving you about 1.5 grams per average-sized tomato. The fibers in tomatoes (87%) are insoluble.
Versatile and tasty, tomatoes are also rich in several minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C and K1, folate, and potassium [1,2,3].
Potassium is beneficial for heart disease prevention and blood pressure control and vitamin K1 is important for bone health and blood clotting. Folate or vitamin B9 is necessary for normal cell function and tissue growth [4,5,6].
What are the Health Benefits of Tomatoes?
The high nutrient and low carb content of tomatoes are just some of the many reasons why they’re so advantageous for your health. Tomatoes are a significant source of lycopene — an antioxidant associated with myriad health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
Tomatoes contain a range of plant compounds, such as beta carotene and naringenin. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that often gives food a yellow or orange color. Your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. Naringenin is a flavonoid found in the tomato skin that’s been shown to lower inflammation and protect against certain diseases in mice [7,8,9,10].
Consuming tomatoes might improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease. For example, one study in middle-aged men associated low blood levels of lycopene and beta-carotene to a heightened risk of strokes and heart attacks. Supplementing with lycopene might help lower LDL cholesterol or what some experts call the ‘bad’ cholesterol [11,12,13].
Impressive clinical studies of tomato products point to benefits against inflammation and oxidative stress. Tomatoes also show a protective effect on the inner layer of blood vessels and might reduce the risk of blood clotting [14,15].
Tomatoes are a delicious fruit to include on your ketogenic diet. A tomato allergy is rare, but some people might be allergic to tomatoes or the nightshade family. Some people with autoimmune diseases or certain medical problems might choose to remove nightshades from the diet for a certain time period to ensure tomatoes aren’t prompting an allergic or negative reaction.
Overall, tomatoes are a healthy, nutritious, and keto-approved fruit! Remember, just because tomatoes are keto-friendly doesn’t mean all tomato products are. Many tomato sauces, juices, paste, and salsas contain sneaky added sugars, so always check the ingredients. Try some of these tasty tomato-rich recipes:
3. D’Elia, L., Barba, G., Cappuccio, F. P., & Strazzullo, P. (2011). Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Coll Cardiol, 57(10), 1210-1219. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.09.070
4. Bolton-Smith, C., McMurdo, M., Paterson, C. R., Mole, P. A., Harvey, J. M., Fenton, S. T., Prynne, C. J., Mishra, G. D., & Shearer, M. J. (2007). Two-year randomized controlled trail of vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone) and vitamin D3 plus calcium on the bone health of older women. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 22(4), DOI: 10.1359/JBMR.070116
5. Bugel, S. (2003). Vitamin K and bone health. Proc Nutr Soc, 62(4), 839-843. DOI: 10.1079/PNS2003305
6. Fekete, K., Berti, C., Trovato, M., Lohner, S., Dullemeijer, C., Souverein, O. W., Cetin, I., & Desci, T. (2012). Effect of folate intake on health outcomes in pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis on birth weight, placental weight, and length of gestation. Nutrition Journal, DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-75
7. Story, E. N., Kopec, R. E., Schwartz, S. J., & Harris, G. K. (2010). An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. Annu Rev Food Sci Technology, DOI: 10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120
9. Lenucci, M. S., Cadinu, D., Taurino, M., Piro, G., & Dalessandro, G. (2006). Antioxidant composition in cherry and high-pigment tomato cultivars. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 54(7), 2606-2613. DOI: 10.1021/jf052920c
10. Bharti, S., Rani, N., Krishnamurthy, B., & Arya, D. S. (2014). Preclinical evidence for the pharmacological actions of naringin: A review. Planta Med, 80(6), 437-451. DOI: 10.1055/s-0034-1368351
11. Karppi, J., Laukkanen, J. A., Makikallio, T. H., & Kurl, S. (2012). Low serum lycopene and beta-carotene increase risk of acute myocardial infarction in men. Eur J Public Health, 22(6), 835-840. DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckr174
12. Karppi, J., Laukkanen, J. A., Sivenius, J., Ronkainen, K., & Kurl, S. (2012). Serum lycopene decreases the risk of stroke in men: A population-based follow-up study. Neurology, 79(15), 1540-1547. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826e26a6
13. Palozza, P., Catalano, A., Simone, R. E., Mele, M. C., & Cittadini, A. (2012). Effect of lycopene and tomato products on cholesterol metabolism. Ann Nutr Metab, 61(2), 126-134. DOI: 10.1159/000342077
14. Riso, P., Visioli, F., Grande, S., Guarnieri, S., Gardana, C., Simonetti, P., & Porrini, M. (2006). Effect of a tomato-based drink on markers of inflammation, immunomodulation, and oxidative stress. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 54(7), 2563-2566. DOI: 10.1021/jf053033c
15. Palomo, I., Fuentes, E., Padro, T., & Badimon, L. (2012). Platelets and atherogenesis: Platelet anti-aggregation activity and endothelial protection from tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Exp Ther Med, 3(4), 577-584. DOI: 10.3892/etm.2012.477
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