Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in the world, enjoyed in cuisines from Italian to Indian. They are often eaten fresh, in salads or sandwiches, but they also play a starring role in sauces, soups, and stews. Despite their ubiquity, tomatoes are often misunderstood. For starters, they are technically a fruit, not a vegetable. Tomatoes are packed with nutrients like lycopene and vitamins C and A. So the next time you enjoy a delicious tomato dish, rest assured that you’re eating a healthy—and perfectly safe—fruit.
However, tomatoes are often grouped with other fruits like watermelons and oranges, tomatoes actually belong to the nightshade family, which also includes eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. This family is notoriously controversial, as some believe that nightshades are poisonous. This is the reason people are confused whether tomatoes are bad for their gut health.
Let’s unveil the truth and search for the answer.
Are Tomatoes Bad for Your Gut Health?
Like any other food, tomatoes offer a number of health benefits along with a delicious taste, and impressive nutritional profile. Meanwhile, there are also some side effects of tomatoes if not eaten in a proper way.
Before answering the main question; Are tomatoes bad for your gut health, let’s have a look on tomatoes benefits proven with clinical studies and trials.
Tomatoes and Gut Health: Benefits of Tomatoes
Following are some of the tomatoes health benefits.
Source of Prebiotics
Tomatoes are one of the best sources of prebiotics. Most people are familiar with the concept of probiotics, but fewer are aware of prebiotics and their important role in gut health. Prebiotics are indigestible carbs that act as food for probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in your gut. In other words, they are nutrients that you cannot digest, but your gut bacteria can. When you eat foods rich in prebiotics, they travel to your lower digestive tract, where they help the healthy bacteria to grow and thrive.
Research has shown that prebiotics can improve gut health by increasing the levels of good bacteria, reducing inflammation, and stimulating immune function. Furthermore, prebiotics are thought to play a role in weight loss and overall health. For these reasons, it is important to include prebiotic-rich foods in your diet.
A Treasure of Dietary Lycopene
Tomatoes are not only a delicious and versatile addition to any meal, but they are also packed with nutrients that can support good health. One of the most important nutrients found in tomatoes is lycopene, an antioxidant pigment that helps to protect cells from damage. Lycopene is found in the highest concentrations in the tomato skin, so when buying tomatoes, look for ones with a deep red color.
Additionally, cooked tomatoes actually have more lycopene than raw ones, so don’t be afraid to add them to your favorite recipes. Not only will you be getting the benefits of lycopene, but you’ll also be treated to the delicious flavor of tomatoes.
Lycoine and Gut Health
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes and other red fruits. It has been linked to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. In addition to its well-known health benefits, lycopene may also boost gut health. One study showed that tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene, helped to boost probiotic activity in the gut. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to keep the gut healthy.
The probiotic strain L. reuteri was found to be particularly affected by lycopene. This helpful bacteria is known to support a healthy microbiome. The study showed that lycopene may help to prevent some of the antioxidants in tomatoes from getting absorbed into the bloodstream. However, it also found that the antioxidants in tomatoes may boost the helpful effects of L. reuteri. This overall positive effect on gut health makes lycopene a nutrient worth including in your diet.
Tomatoes and Healthy Skin
As anyone who has ever stepped outside without sunscreen knows, the sun can be damaging to your skin. UV rays can cause everything from sunburns to premature aging, and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. However, there are some foods that can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
Lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes are one such example. Numerous studies have shown that consuming tomatoes can help to protect your skin from UV damage. The antioxidants in tomatoes may also help to keep your cells healthy and functioning properly. So if you’re looking for a way to keep your skin healthy, add some tomatoes to your diet. Your skin will thank you for it!
Tomato and Vision
For those looking to boost their eye health, tomatoes are an excellent choice. Tomatoes are rich in nutrients like lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin, all of which have been linked to better eye health. These nutrients help to protect against UV exposure and preserve vision as we age. In fact, one study found that lutein and zeaxanthin could reduce the risk of age-related eye issues by up to 35%. So next time you’re looking for a way to improve your eye health, consider reaching for a tomato.
Tomatoes and Heart Health
Tomatoes are not only delicious, but they may also be good for your heart. Lycopene, a substance that gives tomatoes their red color, has been linked to lowered risk of heart attacks and strokes. Beta-carotene, another substance found in tomatoes, has also been shown to have positive effects on heart health. Clinical trials suggest that lycopene supplements may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. So, next time you’re looking for a healthy snack, reach for a tomato! Not only will it taste great, but you may also be doing your heart a favor.
Tomatoes and Inflammation
Clinical studies of tomato products indicate that tomatoes provide a number of benefits against inflammation and markers of oxidative stress. They also show a protective effect on the inner layer of blood vessels and may decrease your risk of blood clotting. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that has been shown to protect against cell damage. Studies have also shown that lycopene can help to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. All of these factors make tomatoes an important part of a healthy diet.
Variety of Vital Nutrients
Tomatoes are not only delicious, but they’re also packed with a variety of vital nutrients that may not be available in at one place. Tomatoes are a good source of:
- Vitamin A, which is important for vision, skin, and immune function.
- Vitamin C is another key nutrient in tomatoes, and it’s essential for wound healing, bone growth, and absorption of iron.
- Vitamin B6, which helps the body to make energy and keep the immune system functioning properly.
- Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and bone health.
- Folate (vitamin B9) helps make sure your cells are healthy and able to function properly. It’s especially important for pregnant women because it can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in their baby!
- Naringenin, the beneficial flavonoid found in tomato skin has been shown to decrease inflammation as well protect against diseases.
- Beta carotene, a pigment that gives foods the familiar yellow or orange hue, and when it’s converted into vitamin A in our bodies we get protection from night blindness.
- Chlorogenic acid is a powerful antioxidant compound that may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.
- Finally, tomatoes are a good source of magnesium, manganese, potassium, and prebiotic fiber.
As you can see, tomatoes offer a wide range of health benefits. So go ahead and enjoy them in your favorite dishes!
Our Recommendation: Are Tomatoes Bad for Your Gut Health?
Tomatoes are a delicious and nutritious food that offer many health benefits. Tomatoes are especially beneficial for gut health due to their prebiotic fiber content and their lycopene content, as well as several other important vitamins and minerals. This is why tomatoes are not bad for your gut health. In fact, tomatoes are an ideal source of prebiotics for your gut microorganisms.
Tomatoes also benefit heart health, skin health, and overall wellness. They are a great food to add to your diet and are easy to include in a variety of meals. Add tomatoes to your diet today and enjoy the many benefits they have to offer!
Scientific Studies and References
- Davani-Davari D, Negahdaripour M, Karimzadeh I, Seifan M, Mohkam M, Masoumi SJ, Berenjian A, Ghasemi Y. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods. 2019 Mar 9;8(3):92. doi: 10.3390/foods8030092. PMID: 30857316; PMCID: PMC6463098.
- Koh, J. H., Kim, N., Hwang, D., & Lim, Y. (2013). Effect of water-soluble fraction of cherry tomatoes on the adhesion of probiotics and Salmonellato intestinal epithelial cells. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 93(15), 3897-3900. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6255
García-Alonso FJ, González-Barrio R, Martín-Pozuelo G, Hidalgo N, Navarro-González I, Masuero D, Soini E, Vrhovsek U, Periago MJ. A study of the prebiotic-like effects of tomato juice consumption in rats with diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Food Funct. 2017 Oct 18;8(10):3542-3552. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00393e. PMID: 28876011.
Story EN, Kopec RE, Schwartz SJ, Harris GK. An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2010;1:189-210. doi: 10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120. PMID: 22129335; PMCID: PMC3850026.
- García-Hernández, J., Hernández-Pérez, M., Peinado, I., Andrés, A., & Heredia, A. (2018). Tomato-antioxidants enhance viability of L. reuteri under gastrointestinal conditions while the probiotic negatively affects bioaccessibility of lycopene and phenols. Journal of Functional Foods, 43, 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2017.12.052
- Stahl, W., Heinrich, U., Aust, O., Tronnier, H., & Sies, H. (2006). Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection. Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, 5(2), 238-242. doi:10.1039/b505312a
Palozza P, Catalano A, Simone RE, Mele MC, Cittadini A. Effect of lycopene and tomato products on cholesterol metabolism. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;61(2):126-34. doi: 10.1159/000342077. PMID: 22965217.
- Basu, A., & Imrhan, V. (2006). Tomatoes versus lycopene in oxidative stress and carcinogenesis: conclusions from clinical trials. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61(3), 295-303. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602510
Viuda-Martos M, Sanchez-Zapata E, Sayas-Barberá E, Sendra E, Pérez-Álvarez JA, Fernández-López J. Tomato and tomato byproducts. Human health benefits of lycopene and its application to meat products: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(8):1032-49. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.623799. PMID: 24499120.
Bharti S, Rani N, Krishnamurthy B, Arya DS. Preclinical evidence for the pharmacological actions of naringin: a review. Planta Med. 2014 Apr;80(6):437-51. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1368351. Epub 2014 Apr 7. PMID: 24710903.