Tomatoes are one of nature’s best sources of lycopene. Cooking tomatoes makes the lycopene more available, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid raw ones.
One cup of raw tomato still provides plenty of lycopene, as well as lutein, vitamins A and C, carotenes, anthocyanins, and potassium.
It is the lycopene, however, that has made tomatoes a SuperFood. It may be the best substance for quenching oxygen free radicals, and it helps protect the skin from the aging effects of ultraviolet light. Lycopene has been researched for its potential in combating several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, pancreatic, and intestinal cancers. Interestingly, however, in some studies lycopene alone did not convey the same protection as eating a diet rich in tomatoes. So there are certainly more health-protecting treasures inside this versatile food.
A study in 2007 found that broccoli and tomatoes together were better at fighting prostate cancer than either vegetable was alone. Although the study was done on rats, the tomato-broccoli combination was effective enough to have strong implications for humans as well.
The fiber and antioxidants in tomatoes have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. In at least one study, a high dietary intake of tomato products significantly reduced both low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels, while making the cholesterol less vulnerable to oxidation.Nutritional Facts
One raw red tomato provides 26 calories, 5.7 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 1.4 g dietary fiber, 766 IU vitamin A, 23 mg vitamin C, 18 mcg folic acid, 273 mg potassium, 11 mg sodium, 30 mg phosphorus, 6 mg calcium, and 14 mg magnesium.