Tomatoes are widely available, cost-effective, and people of all ages and cultures like them.
Now, a review research has shown that eating more tomatoes and tomato products could make people healthier and slash their risk of developing killer diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers Britt Burton-Freeman and Kristin Reimers of the National Centre for Food Safety and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology and ConAgra Foods, Inc., looked at the current research to discover the role tomato products play in health and disease risk reduction.
They found that tomatoes are the biggest source of powerful antioxidant lycopene.
Unlike nutrients in most fresh fruits and vegetables, lycopene has even greater potency after cooking and processing.
Tomatoes also contain other protective mechanisms, such as antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory functions.
The researchers also found a link between eating tomatoes and a lower risk of certain cancers as well as other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, ultraviolet light–induced skin damage, and even cognitive dysfunction.
"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," said the authors.
"Research underscores the relationship between consuming tomatoes and reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions," they said.
"The evidence also suggests that consumption of tomatoes should be recommended because of the nutritional benefits and because it may be a simple and effective strategy for increasing overall vegetable intake," they concluded.
The review research is published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine .