Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits
Researchers looked at the role tomato products play in health and disease risk reduction. Results indicate that eating more tomatoes and tomato products can make people healthier and decrease the risk of conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. The article is particularly timely since the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 moved tomatoes to a newly established category of “orange/red” fruits and vegetables to encourage higher consumption of these healthy foods.
Tomatoes and tomato products are one of the most familiar vegetables in the American diet. Quantitatively, they are the most consumed nonstarchy vegetable and are the most significant source of dietary lycopene; a powerful antioxidant that has greater bioavailability after cooking and processing (eg, canning). A large body of research supports an inverse relationship between consuming tomatoes and tomato products and risk of certain cancers, while emerging research is exploring the protective relationship between tomato intake and a host of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, ultraviolet light–induced skin damage, and cognitive dysfunction. Initial studies of tomato consumption and disease risk reduction focused on lycopene and antioxidant activity. More recent hypotheses recognize the advantages of the whole tomato; and hence, research on the role of tomato products in health and disease risk reduction extends beyond antioxidant function to include other protective mechanisms such as antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory functions. Increasing daily vegetable intake in the American diet offers the potential to yield significant health benefits. In addition to the specific benefits of tomato consumption, encouraging greater tomato and tomato product consumption may help increase overall vegetable intake because of their wide availability, well-established acceptability, cost-effectiveness, and convenience of multiple forms. Leveraging emerging science about tomatoes and tomato products may be one simple and effective strategy to help individuals increase vegetable intake, leading to improved overall eating patterns, and ultimately, better health
Burton-Freeman, B., & Reimers, K. (2010). Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 5 (2), 182-191 DOI: 10.1177/1559827610387488