Could What You Don’t Know About Tomatoes Hurt You?
Tomatoes Reduce Obesity-Related risks
Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the cells fail to respond to the hormone insulin appropriately. Insulin from the pancreas facilitates the entry of glucose into the cells. Red tomatoes have lycopene, a carotenoid phytochemical that improves the cells’ ability to respond to insulin while at the same time it combats inflammation and free radical damage.4 Obese individuals often have low lycopene and carotenoid levels, as well as higher levels of inflammatory markers. Consuming whole tomatoes with the peel is superior to juicing as far as diabetes prevention goes.5
Resistin is a hormone from fat cells that regulates the blood glucose level and metabolism. Elevated levels of resistin may cause insulin resistance. Tomato with broccoli can lower elevated resistin levels and improve the utilization of glucose.6,7
Obesity increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common liver disorder in Western countries. Unfortunately, this condition has been shown to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Early evidence suggests that consumption of tomato juice helps to slow down the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.8
Tomatoes Protect from Cardiovascular Diseases
Researchers investigated the effects of consuming a pre-meal raw tomato for four weeks. The results? Significant reductions were observed in body weight, fat, reductions in fasting blood glucose, triglycerides (blood fats), cholesterol, and uric acid of the participants.9 Other studies show that regular tomato consumption increases the “good” cholesterol HDL.10 All this can translate into better health for the arteries, the immune system, and the kidneys. Frequent consumption of cooked tomatoes can improve the ability of the arteries to dilate and help blood pressure. Remember though, ketchup and some tomato products have considerable sodium.11
Researchers followed 1,031 men in Finland between the ages of 46 and 65. Among the men with the lowest levels of lycopene, the incidence of stroke was more than doubled. Those with the highest levels of lycopene were 59 percent less likely to have a stroke caused by clots than those with the lowest levels.12 Tomatoes have natural anti-clotting compounds.13
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and inflammation. Eight weeks of consuming tomato juice led to reduced inflammatory markers and improved ability of the blood vessels to dilate in men who had metabolic syndrome compared to men who had the same condition but did not consume tomato juice. Additionally, the tomato juice enhanced the cells’ ability to respond to insulin. LDL cholesterol was also decreased while the beneficial HDL was slightly increased.14
Consuming Tomatoes Regularly may Improve Your Mental Health
Frequent tomato consumption may help to reduce the risk for depression significantly. A cross-sectional survey examined the mental health and dietary habits of 986 Japanese people aged over 70 years. Those who reported eating tomatoes two to six times a week were 46% less likely to report mild or severe symptoms of depression than those who ate tomatoes less than once a week. No such association was found for other vegetables. Another study found that women who consumed tomatoes for four weeks improved anxiety and depression scores and helped to alleviate some menopausal symptoms in middle-aged women.15
Frequent Tomato Consumption may Reduce Your Risk for Certain Cancers
Lycopene is also a cancer-fighting agent. Consider these two studies:
In one study of older women, those who reported a lower intake of lycopene had more risk for kidney cancer. Those who ingested more lycopene, had a 39 percent lower risk.16 By the way, since high blood pressure increases the risk for kidney cancer, we recommend you make your own tomato sauce with a little salt instead of purchased processed foods which are typically high in sodium.
Numerous studies have linked higher levels of lycopene to a lower risk of prostate cancer.17 In one study, men who ate over ten portions of tomatoes a week had an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer.18 Lycopene reduces the growth of prostate tumors in a variety of animal models.19
Caveats: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You!
This author believes:
- Eating whole tomatoes and drinking freshly made tomato juice is superior to canned products and eating tomato-based processed foods or taking lycopene supplements. Naringin is another phytochemical that exerts chemopreventive and anticancer activities in various models of oral, breast, colon, liver, lung, and ovarian cancer.20 Besides lycopene and naringin, tomatoes contain a variety of health-preserving and health-promoting compounds, that in synergy, help protect us against various disease threats.21 Concerning the prevention of cardiovascular disease, studies show that eating tomatoes has a stronger protective effect than lycopene supplementation.22
- No food or supplement can substitute for the early diagnosis, surgery, or appropriate treatment for cancer or chronic disease. A food or supplement might help to reduce one’s risk and be useful as an adjunct treatment. If you have a chronic condition, please see a health-care professional.
- Cooking substantially raises the levels of lycopene and other carotenoids in tomatoes and makes them more available for the body to utilize.23
- Use a variety of superfoods. Watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, and sweet red peppers also contain lycopene. Tomatoes when combined with soy seem more effective in preventing prostate cancer than when eaten alone.24
© 2018 – 2019, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
- Ghavipour M. Tomato juice consumption reduces systemic inflammation in overweight and obese females. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun; 109(11):2031-5.
- The effect of tomato-derived lycopene on low carotenoids and enhanced systemic inflammation and oxidation in severe obesity. Isr Med Assoc J. 2009 Oct; 11(10):598-601.
- Li YF. Tomato juice supplementation in young women reduces inflammatory adipokine levels independently of body fat reduction. Nutrition.2015 May; 31(5):691-6.
- Zeng Z. Lycopene Improves Insulin Sensitivity through Inhibition of STAT3/Srebp-1c-Mediated Lipid Accumulation and Inflammation in Mice fed a High-Fat Diet. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2017 May 4.
- Zidani S. Effect of dry tomato peel supplementation on glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and hepatic markers in mice fed high-saturated-fat/high-cholesterol diets. J Nutr Biochem.2017 Feb; 40:164-171.
- Aborehab NM. Resistin mediates tomato and broccoli extract effects on glucose homeostasis in high fat diet-induced obesity in rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Jul 18; 16:225.
- Luvizotto A. Br J Nutr. Lycopene supplementation modulates plasma concentrations and epididymal adipose tissue mRNA of leptin, resistin, and IL-6 in diet-induced obese rats. 2013 Nov; 110(10):1803-9.
- Martín-Pozuelo G. Tomato Juice Consumption Modifies the Urinary Peptide Profile in Sprague-Dawley Rats with Induced Hepatic Steatosis. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Oct 26; 17(11). pii: E1789.
- Pre-meal tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) intake can have anti-obesity effects in young women? Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Dec; 65(8):1019-26.
- Hirose A. Tomato juice intake increases resting energy expenditure and improves hypertriglyceridemia in middle-aged women: an open-label, single-arm study. Nutr J. 2015 Apr 8; 14:34.
- American Academy of Neurology (AAN). “Can eating tomatoes lower the risk of stroke?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2012. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121008161746.htm
- Yamamoto J. Tomatoes have natural anti-thrombotic effects. Br J Nutr.2003 Dec; 90(6):1031-8.
- Valahur G. Intake of cooked tomato sauce preserves coronary endothelial function and improves apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein J protein profile in high-density lipoproteins. Transl Res. 2015 Jul; 166(1):44-56.
- Tsitsimpikou C. Dietary supplementation with tomato-juice in patients with metabolic syndrome: a suggestion to alleviate detrimental clinical factors. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Dec; 74:9-13.
- Does a tomato a day keep depression away? http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/12December/Pages/Does-a-tomato-a-day-keep-depression-away.aspx
- Wayne State University Division of Research. “Lycopene may ward off kidney cancer in older women.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2015.
- Chen P. Lycopene and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Aug;94(33):e1260.
- University of Bristol. “Fighting prostate cancer with tomato-rich diet.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140827100218.htm
- University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “Tracing activity of cancer-fighting tomato component.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151113051132.htm
- Bharti S. Preclinical evidence for the pharmacological actions of naringin: a review. Planta Med. 2014 Apr; 80(6):437-51.
- Perveen R. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Carotenoids and Lycopenes Chemistry; Metabolism, Absorption, Nutrition, and Allied Health Claims–A Comprehensive Review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(7):919-29.
- Burton-Freeman B. Whole food versus supplement: comparing the clinical evidence of tomato intake and lycopene supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors. Adv Nutr. 2014 Sep;5(5):457-85.
- Cornell University. “Cooking Tomatoes Boosts Disease-Fighting Power.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2002. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020422073341.htm
- University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). “Soy and tomato may be effective in preventing prostate cancer.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2013. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508114307.htm