College of DuPage Nursing Student Shawn Kim discusses with Healthy Lombard the extensive topic of phytochemicals and phenolic compounds that are present in tomatoes.
According to an article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, tomatoes have varying health benefits such as phytochemicals (biologically active compounds found in plants) which help prevent certain chronic degenerative disorders (Balwinder et al., 2018). Similarly, Singh (2018) and his team include that tomatoes contain phenolic compounds which include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. The protective properties of tomatoes for certain underlying conditions are related to the decrease in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems (Balwinder et al., 2018). The most beautiful part of a tomato is that it is generally not affected in the cooking process, thus maintaining, and making all its bioactivities and health benefits more promising (Balwinder et al., 2018).
The tomato has since evolved for many generations, and to this day scientists expand on the benefits of phytochemicals (Balwinder et al., 2018). There are many essential constituents that make up the bioactivity within a sweet, delicious tomato such as carotenoids (beneficial antioxidants that offer protection against diseases and enhance the immune system) (Balwinder et al., 2018). One of the carotenoids inside the tomato is lycopene which has been shown to lower LDL levels as well as blood pressure (Balwinder et al., 2018).
The phenolic compounds allow for antioxidant-like properties in tomatoes to prevent degenerative changes within the cell by reducing free radical levels. If a high level of free radicals exists without antioxidants to balance this process, oxidative stress can occur, increasing the risk for disease. There is also evidence that the antioxidant activity of tomatoes translates into a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer (Balwinder et al., 2018).
While the tomato has a variety of phytochemicals that constitute many of its benefits, tomatoes are also packed with vitamins such as A, B, C, and E. In the tomato is a substance called B-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A not only for vision, but to maintain and regularize cell growth throughout the body. In addition, vitamin B promotes healthy cell growth and plays a pivotal role in the body’s immune and nervous system function. Furthermore, vitamin C is important in the development and recovery of the body tissues, but more importantly in the functional capacity of the immune system. Lastly, vitamin E has antioxidant properties which can help protect cells, slowing the cellular aging process (Balwinder et al., 2018).
Overall, there are many compounds and components that make the tomato a healthy alternative for any occasion. With all the benefits and underlying factors that constitute tomatoes, the authenticity in nature and science make it difficult to pinpoint exactly which variables should be followed. However, the connections between the benefit of tomatoes and disease are evident (Balwinder et al., 2018). Therefore, the protective properties of this fruit are convincing enough to warrant picking up a bag of tomatoes today.
Chaudhary, P., Sharma, A., Singh, B., & Nagpal, A. (2018, August). Bioactivities of phytochemicals present in tomato. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6045986/
Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A., & Chandra, N. (2010, July). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Retrieved March 19, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
Ryan-Harshman, M., & Aldoori, W. (2005, July). Health benefits of selected vitamins. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1479519/.