7 Incredible Health Benefits of Tomatoes (Lycopene)

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tomatoes for people with diabetes

In recent times, not just people suffering from diabetes mellitus (DM) but even the scientific community has shifted focus on a multi-pronged strategy to prevent and even reverse DM by opting for phytochemicals-rich fruits. One such example is tomato. Yes, tomato is a fruit, at least in the botanical sense. Interestingly, several fruits are known to be rich in metabolites or bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and terpenes; tomato is one of them. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a type of compound which falls into the triterpene category. It is believed that lycopene benefits far exceed what was previously assumed.

7 benefits of Tomatoes (Lycopene) for People With Diabetes

Benefit – 1.  Lycopene – Impact on Blood Sugar Levels 

It is an open secret that tomatoes have a low GI value. It typically means that this fruit does not result in blood sugar spikes. The reason being it releases its miniscule sugar content gradually, in small amounts, minimising the risk of a jump in glucose levels. Moreover, its fibrous core is known to keep diabetic patients satiated for longer, reducing food intake. For people with pre-diabetes and healthy individuals, adding tomatoes to a daily diet can lower the risk of T2D (type-2 diabetes).

Benefit – 2.  Lycopene – Impact on Insulin Sensitivity

Studies have shown that metabolic disorders such as T2D (diabetes) are caused due to insulin sensitivity or inefficient production of this hormone by the pancreas. A diet rich in tomatoes and fruits containing lycopene not only prevents an increase in blood sugar levels, especially in individuals who consume large amounts of carbs, but also reduces insulin intolerance. This, in turn, improves insulin efficiency and thereby reduction in hepatic glycogen content. Tomato soup benefits also include reduced insulin sensitivity.

Benefit – 3. Lycopene a Powerful Antioxidant – Reduce Coronary Heart Disease Risks

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant. This compound, along with other phytochemicals, not only offers that fiery colour to certain fruits but is a perfect dietary add-on to combat advanced glycation events caused by medicines such as Metformin. The antioxidant property of lycopene neutralizes the imbalance between the free radicals and anti-oxidative defence. This reduces the risks of coronary heart disease and cancer by fighting pathogenic threats.

Benefit – 4. Inflammation Reduction – Lycopene’s Contribution to Diabetes Care

The health benefits of tomatoes do not revolve around lycopene alone. This fruit is also rich in folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and potassium. These micronutrients, along with carotenoids, offer an oxidative shield. What does this mean for healthy individuals in general and people with diabetes in particular? The answer is reduced swelling. You need to understand that general chronic inflammation, or the one caused by diabetes, can lead to serious health risks such as increased blood sugar levels and cardiovascular / brain diseases. 

Benefit – 5. Cardiovascular Benefits – Lycopene’s Role in Heart Health for People With Diabetes 

So, how do tomatoes support a healthy heart, especially in people with diabetes? There are many reasons. However, before we delve into them, you must understand that people with diabetes are always at risk of cardiovascular issues in the long run. Dietary use of tomato or tomato paste/soup can significantly impact glucose levels, preventing or even reversing heart-related health problems. Now, coming back to the reasons, lycopene typically improves lipid profile. Individuals who consume decent amounts of tomatoes benefit from lower internal inflammation, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, the three major causes of cardiovascular upheavals.

Benefit – 6. Anti-ageing – Lycopene’s Role for Healthy Skin 

Although tomato benefits for skin per se need more studies, it is generally assumed that one of its benefits also includes healthy/youthful skin. The reason behind this belief is its anti-oxidative property. On the other hand, lycopene as a suppressor of age-related illnesses has already been concluded in several lengthy and complex experiments. Nonetheless, its impact on preventing, delaying, and fighting skin / other cancers also needs further studies. 

Benefit –7. Lycopene – Mental Health Benefits

The brain’s weakness or lack of resistance to the side effects of oxidative stress arising from the accumulation of free radicals is no longer a myth. Studies have confirmed that OS not only initiates brain cell damage but also continues to hamper its functioning, resulting in severe mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, etc. The culprit is actually glycoxidation, caused by free radicals, resulting in a build-up of plaques in brain tissues. Tomato juice benefits may appear mystical and unbelievable, but it is a potent concoction nevertheless.

Lycopene-Rich Foods Beyond Tomatoes – Diversifying Your Diet

Although dietary tomatoes are rich in lycopene, the dried and paste variants provide a concentrated source of this lipophilic carotenoid. Did you know that just an ounce of dried tomatoes contains more than 12,000 mcg of lycopene? However, if you are averse to this fruit, fret not. Diversify into other products such as papayas, peaches, asparagus, and watermelons. 

Lycopene Absorption and Bioavailability – What You Need to Know

Lycopene boasts decent absorption and bioavailability in humans. However, studies have shown that this factor can be dramatically improved if tomatoes are consumed in paste form, especially when added to cuisines which are rich in fats. The reason is that lycopene is a lipid-soluble compound. Adding avocado or salad dressing topped with olive oil can increase lycopene uptake by more than 300%. The benefits of eating tomatoes inversely depend on the absorption and bioavailability of lycopene, which in turn depends on the way tomatoes are used in preparation. 

Winding Up –

Studies have shown that tomatoes and certain fruits such as papayas, peaches, and asparagus are loaded with lycopene. This carotenoid reduces blood glucose levels and also prevents/delays the onset of several age and non-age-related diseases. The benefits of tomatoes encompass several health benefits. Add this fruit-cum-vegetable to your daily diet to achieve your long-term health goals, including diabetes management.

Read More: Top 10 Health Benefits of Jowar (Sorghum)

Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational purposes only. Although most of the health benefits mentioned here have been thoroughly researched, there are quite a few that still need to be verified by the medical/scientific fraternities. Reader discretion is highly recommended. Also, note that the content is in no way medical advice.

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