I was visiting Melbourne recently and a former student came up to me and said “Hans, is it OK for me to eat tomatoes on The Ratchet Diet?” I think he was asking this question because of the confusion about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Like many of my weight loss students, he was very well aware that I try to discourage people on a diet from eating too much fruit. However I was able to put his mind at rest. The tomato is a fruit but its one of the safest and healthiest fruits for the keen dieter. In fact I very rarely have a salad that does not include at least one tomato in it.
“So what are the pros and cons of eating tomatoes Hans?”
The pros of eating tomatoes are almost too numerous to list, but here goes anyway:
- Tomatoes are a natural source of important nutrients like Niacin, folates, vitamin B6. These are all very handy nutrients that help with reducing the hazards of heart problems and other age related heart diseases.
- Tomatoes help with blood purification by removing toxins from the body and preventing many urinary tract infections.
- Tomatoes are loaded with a high amount of lycopene, an anti oxidant which may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
- Tomatoes are reputed to enhance the body’s ability to absorb more carotenoid phytochemicals including lycopene when it is cooked in the olive oil.
- Tomatoes are a rich source of potassium which plays an important role in nerve signals transmission and body fluid maintenance.
- Tomatoes help to control high blood pressure.
- Tomatoes reduce chronic fatigue syndrome
- Tomatoes reduce muscle weakness.
- Tomatoes control bloating and other intestinal disorders.
- Tomatoes can reduce clotting which helps in preventing strokes and major heart diseases.
- Tomatoes are a natural sources vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese and vitamin E .
- It is well known that eating foods like tomatoes that are high in water content and fiber can help to keep you hydrated.
- Eating lots of tomatoes will contribute to adding bulk to your stools which will help with regularity and ease of bowel movements.
- Another benefit of the folic acid content of tomatoes is that it helps pregnant women with protecting against neural tube defects in their unborn infants.
- The folic acid in tomatoes may also help minimise the impact of depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain.
- The vitamin C content of tomatoes helps in keeping teeth and gums healthy, speeds up the wound healing and enhances fat metabolism
- Tomatoes help to reduce age related macular degeneration thus improving the retention of good eyesight.
- Tomatoes can reduce the risk of various cancers like lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, stomach cancer, intestinal cancer, and ovarian cancer.
- Tomatoes are high in antioxidants which means that they play a big role in preventing DNA damage from free radicals.
- Tomatoes help to delay other age related diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes and heart failure.
- Tomatoes help to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, which leads to a lowering of the risks of heart problems and blocked arteries.
- Tomatoes are a good natural resource for phytonutrients including naringenin, hydroxycinnamic acids, glycosides, kaempferol, caffeic acid, carotenoids, chalconaringenin, lutein, flavonols, and rutin. (you can never get enough rutin!)
- Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin K which activates the osteocalcin and therefore assists in anchoring calcium molecules inside the bones.
- Tomatoes have a very high level of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients that help to protect against cancer.
- Tomatoes are said to reduce the risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- The known antioxidant property of tomatoes neutralizes dangerous free radicals all through the body thus minimising atherosclerosis, asthma, and colon cancer.
- As tomatoes are a good source of fibre eating them lowers high cholesterol levels, and helps with maintaining blood sugar levels.
- The high fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all assist with cardiac health.
- The high potassium levels contained in tomatoes is associated with a reduced risk of strokes.
- Tomatoes can help prevent against loss of muscle mass,.
- Tomatoes can help the preservation of bone mineral density.
- The high vitamin C content of tomatoes assists as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution and smoke, smooths wrinkles and improves overall skin texture.
Fortunately there are not many cons to eating tomatos. Some of them are:
- Tomatoes have a high acid content that may disturb the stomach functions.
- Tomatoes may cause some individual to get allergic responses like itching, hives or breathing problems.
- Tomatoes may lead to the bloating in stomach, pain or diarrhoea in individuals with lycopene intolerance.
- lycopene intolerance high level of calcium, oxalic acid, purine and uric acids may increases the risk for kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.
- Tomato leaves are poisonous which causes rigorous mouth and throat irritation, diarrhoea, dizziness, mild spasms, vomiting, headache, and even death. NOTE TO THE READER: DON’T EAT THE BLOODY LEAVES !
- Some people feels heart burn or acid reflux if eating tomatoes.
- May antagonise an existing irritable bowel syndrome
- Cherry tomatoes are high on the list of produce that can have very high risks of pesticide exposure.
- High potassium foods such as tomatoes should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers. NOTE TO THE READER: DON’T EAT TOMATOES If YOU ARE ON BETA-BLOCKERS!
- Consuming too much potassium can be harmful if your kidneys are not fully functional. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal. NOTE TO THE READER: IF YOU HAVE EXISTING KIDNEY PROBLEMS DON’T EAT TOMATOES.
- People with pre-existing gastro-esophageal reflux disease may experience an increase in heartburn and regurgitation when consuming highly acidic foods such as tomatoes.
And don’t forget, even if you are allergic to tomatoes, you can always just throw them at people.