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Tomatoes, the best source of lycopene

In addition to being the best source of lycopene available, tomatoes are rich in many essential nutrients. Learn the health benefits of tomatoes.

Technically a fruit but legally classified as a vegetable, tomatoes offer many health benefits. Although best known as a rich source of lycopene, tomatoes are low in calories, sugar, sodium, and fat and are an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals.

Nutrients in Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene in the diet, accounting for nearly 80 percent of lycopene intake. Tomatoes are also high in:

• vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex

• potassium

• manganese

• copper

• iron

• chromium

• beta-carotene

• fiber

• Tryptophan

1. Anti-oxidant:

Tomatoes contain a lot of vitamins A and C, mostly because of beta-carotene, and these vitamins act as an anti-oxidant, working to neutralize dangerous free radicals in the blood stream.

These dangerous free radicals can cause cell damage. And keep in mind, the more red the tomato, the more beta-carotene it contains. Also, remember that cooking destroys much of vitamin C, so stick with raw tomatoes for these benefits.

2. Diabetes: Tomatoes also have plenty of the mineral chromium, which helps diabetics to keep their blood sugar level under control.

3. `Vision: Because of all that vitamin A, tomatoes are also an excellent food to help improve your vision. This also means tomatoes can help your eyes be better about night blindness.

4. Heart troubles: Due to potassium and vitamin B, tomatoes help to lower blood pressure and to lower high cholesterol levels. This, in turn, could help prevent strokes, heart attack and other potentially life-threatening heart problems.

5. Skin care: Because of high amounts of lycopene, a substance found in many of the more expensive over-the-counter facial cleansers, tomatoes are great for skin care. The best way to use tomatoes for skin care is to peel a bunch of them, eight to twelve, then lay back and place the tomato skins on your face (or other skin areas). Make sure the inside of the tomato skins are against your skin, and let this sit for at least 10 minutes. Then wash off. You’re face will be cleaner and more shiny, though it also might be a little red from the tomatoes. Don’t worry, that red on your face will wear away.

6. Hair: Remember all that vitamin A in tomatoes? Well, it’s good for keeping your hair strong and shiny, and it's also good for your eyes, teeth, skin and bones.

7. Cancer: Various studies have shown that because of all that lycopene in tomatoes, the red fruit helps to lessen the chances of prostate cancer in men, and also reduces the chance of stomach cancer and colorectal cancer.

Lycopene is considered somewhat of a natural miracle anti-oxidant that may help to stop the growth of cancer cells. And, interestingly enough, cooked tomatoes produce more lycopene than do raw tomatoes, so enjoy that tomato soup!

8. Bones: Tomatoes have a fair amount of vitamin K and calcium, both of which help to strengthen and possibly repair in minor ways bones and bone tissue.

9. Kidney stones and gallstones: Eating tomatoes without the seeds has been shown in some studies to lessen the risk of gallstones and kidney stones.

10. Lowers Hypertension: Daily consumption of tomatoes reduces the risk of developing hypertension.

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