For those trying to stay healthy, tomatoes can be an ally or a foe. People who take medications that increase the risk of heart attack or stroke should avoid eating too many high-acid tomatoes and tomato products because they might decrease blood levels of these drugs.
On the other hand, tomatoes are good for you because people with low magnesium levels may want to eat more tomatoes because they contain generous amounts of this key mineral as well as vitamins A and C. In addition, scientific studies suggest that eating tomatoes and tomato-containing foods regularly helps protect against various cancers, especially those affecting the prostate gland and digestive tract. And for those people whose bodies don’t produce enough stomach acid, which is needed for proper digestion of protein, increasing their intake of dietary sources of acid may help prevent stomach cancer.
Tomatoes are good for you as they also contain a number of heart-healthy nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, the red pigment primarily responsible for making tomatoes red. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant in its own right, beta-carotene helps our bodies make vitamin A from another fat-soluble nutrient called retinol. And that’s important because, without enough vitamin A, we can’t maintain healthy mucous membranes that protect against infection and impaired vision. Vitamin A is particularly important for the good health of the eyes because it not only enhances the ability of light entering the eye to produce a clear image on the retina but it also plays a role in recycling chemicals necessary for the proper function of light receptor cells.
Antioxidant and Vitamins
Tomatoes are good for you, In addition to being an antioxidant, beta-carotene is also a precursor to vitamin A. And since the body absorbs carotenoids better when they’re consumed with some fat (“carotenes are cleaved in vivo into vitamin A by bile salts,” say Drs. Reginald Garrett and Charles Grisham of Virginia Polytechnic Institute), you’ll want to eat tomatoes with a little fat. For example, cooked tomatoes taste great on toast with olive oil or butter, chopped tomatoes complement eggs prepared any way you can imagine them — even mixed in pancake batter — and sun-dried tomatoes make a tasty topping for salads or pizzas.
The popularity of yellow pear-shaped tomatoes is due to their delicious taste and appearance. But these tomatoes contain little beta-carotene, which further reduces their nutritional value.
Tomatoes and precautions
Although the acidity of tomatoes can make them irritating to some people’s digestive systems — especially when they trigger symptoms such as heartburn — cooking tomatoes for a few minutes before eating helps neutralize most of the acidity. So add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the pot while cooking spaghetti sauce or soup containing tomatoes.
But if you’re sensitive to nightshade vegetables like tomatoes because of arthritis pain triggered by excessive inflammation, don’t add baking soda to your sauce! Instead, try bell peppers instead of Italian sausage in your recipe, since bell peppers are also part of the nightshade family.
The most important thing to remember about tomatoes is that they are one of the best foods you can eat, whether or not you take medications, although if you have any health problems, talk with your doctor before increasing your intake.