You might want to trade your apple a day for another juicy red bite: a tomato. Research has found that the versatile fruit — yes, it's a fruit, and technically a berry — boasts bountiful health benefits. One medium-size raw tomato packs more than one gram of fiber into just 22 calories, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with potassium, vitamin A, and the antioxidant lycopene. Tomatoes also have the distinction of being the fruit with the highest water content, according to UCLA Health, which notes that at 94 percent, they are even more hydrating than watermelon.
Here are five reasons to add more tomatoes to your diet.
1.May support male fertility
One study looked at the effects of a daily 190 grams (almost 7 ounces) of tomato juice vs an antioxidant capsule or a placebo among male infertility patients for 12 weeks. Compared to the control (placebo) group, the tomato juice significantly increased blood lycopene levels in the men and the movement of sperm, an indicator of fertility. The antioxidant capsule, however, showed no significant improvements.
2.May support exercise recovery
Exercise can damage proteins in the body, and research shows that the antioxidants in tomatoes may help offset the effects. One study in athletes found that taking 3.5 ounces of tomato juice for two months post-exercise improved the athletes' recovery. In another study, 15 healthy non-athletes exercised for 20 minutes on a bicycle after drinking 5 ounces of tomato juice for five weeks, followed by five weeks without tomato juice, and another five weeks with the juice. Blood samples showed that when the tomato juice was consumed, there were significantly lower blood markers associated with exercise-triggered damage.
3.May help prevent type 2 diabetes
Among US adults, 14.7% have type 2 diabetes and 38% have prediabetes, when blood sugar levels are too high but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.Some research shows that the antioxidant properties of lycopene contribute to the prevention of type 2 diabetes. This is due to its ability to protect cells from damage, reduce inflammation, and boost the body's defense mechanisms.Tomatoes' fiber can also help protect against diabetes.
4.May help prevent constipation
Inadequate fluid and fiber can trigger constipation. Tomatoes provide both nutrients, with one whole tomato containing over four ounces of fluid and one and a half grams of fiber.
The water content and dietary fibers found in tomatoes are known to support hydration and healthy bowel movements. Tomatoes are an important source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers.Soluble fiber retains water to create a gel-like texture during digestion while insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool. Both of these changes form waste that is easier to pass.Specifically, the cellulose, hemicelluloses, and pectins fibers in tomatoes are resistant to digestion in the large intestine and help form healthy stool.
5. May Help You Double-Up on Sun Protection
Tomatoes are abundant in the carotenoid lycopene, a fat-soluble pigment that gives red fruits their color, according to MedlinePlus. Lycopene has been found to shield against oxidative stress, including ultraviolet (UV) damage from the sun. In essence, if you eat enough of the fruit, some past research shows it could act as an internal sunscreen by preventing sunburn, and, potentially, skin cancer.
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