Sweet tomatoes: Great health benefits and side effects

Health benefits of sweet tomatoes and side effects
Sweet tomatoes are nutritional, as well as medicinal.

Hardly can a week pass without you consuming a food made with sweet tomatoes. In fact, most Nigerians eat foods made with sweet tomatoes. The jellof rice you eat, the stew, the egg sauce, and so on. Virtually every day we eat sweet tomatoes without giving a thought to what benefits sweet tomatoes have in stock for us.

In this article, i shall take you through the world of sweet tomatoes, and its benefits; we shall explore the plant, the leaves, roots and fruits. An extensive work right? Absolutely! But if you don’t want to be bored by some irrelevant details, you can make use of the table of content to choose your interested topic.

The Sweet Tomatoes Plant

The plant, tomato (Solanum lycopersium) originated in western south America, Mexico, and Central America, but has spread to almost, if not, the whole. The plant, which can grow up to 6 ft when supported, is a dicot, and usually grow series of branching stems with a terminal bud at the tip, which when it stops growing, either because of pruning or flowering, lateral buds are formed and continue to grow.

The fruits of sweet tomatoes are first greenish in color when still unripe, but which turns from being greenish through a yellow intermediate color to a bright reddish color.

When Is Sweet Tomatoes Good For planting?

You should take note of the fact that tomatoes do not require heavy rainfall nor harsh environmental conditions. This may be the reason, in Nigeria; the plant is dominantly being cultivated in large commercial quantities in the Sudan savannah areas of the country with moderate rainfall and adequate sunshine.

Tomato plants are usually being cultivated between the month of August and September. But you can plant your sweet tomatoes year round, so long as you can practice irrigation method.

What Are The Nutritional Content Of Sweet Tomatoes?

Sweet tomatoes possess several health beneficial nutrients, which may vary in concentration due to differences in geographical location and environmental conditions, such as the soil mineral content and manure. But that notwithstanding, sweet tomatoes possess several nutrients.

The Proximate Content Of Sweet Tomatoes

A proximate analysis of any food crop helps us identify the nutritional contents of the food and make a good classification of the food based on the six classes of foods. So, an analysis on the proximate content of sweet tomatoes reveals the presence of the following:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Reducing sugars such as:
  • Glucose
  • Fructose and
  • Sucrose
  • Fiber
  • Moisture

Mineral Contents of Tomatoes

Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic substances, which are essential for a variety of cellular and organ functioning, including regulation of metabolic pathways, formation of vital organs regulation of pH bodily physiological balances. They are also required for nerve transmission, blood pressure, muscle contraction and production of energy.

The mineral composition of sweet tomatoes includes:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Nitrate
  • Nickel
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Chlorine
  • Magnesium
  • Boron
  • Colbat
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Aluminum
  • Silicon
  • Selenium
  • Lead
  • Cadmium
  • Arsenic
  • Iron
  • Chromium
  • Manganese

Vitamin Content Of Sweet Tomatoes

Without vitamins, it would be hard for our enzymes to function. Our cells would naturally die away and nobody could live another two or three hours. Aside being cofactors for enzymes, some vitamins function best as antioxidants, scavenging free radicals and suppressing the adverse effects of oxidative stress on our systems.

Sweet tomatoes are richly endowed with several vitamins and minerals. We just listed the mineral content of tomatoes, and shall just list the vitamins present in sweet tomatoes as follows:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Biotin
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Pantotheic acid
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Amino acid content Of Sweet Tomatoes

  • Alanine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Arginine
  • Glycine
  • Cystine
  • Tyrosine
  • Proline
  • Glutamic acid
  • Serine
  • Lysine
  • Histidine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Leucine
  • Isoluecine
  • Methionine
  • Valine
  • Threonine

Fatty acid content

  • Myristic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Stearic acid
  • Palmitoleic acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Caproic acid
  • Caprylic acid
  • Capric acid
  • Heptadecanoic acid
  • Lauric acid
  • Pentadecanoic acid
  • Arachidic acid
  • Eicosadienoic acid
  • Erucic acid
  • Docosadienoic acid
  • Behenic acid
  • Tricosanoic acid
  • Lignoceric acid
  • Saturated fatty acid
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Vaccenic acid
  • Eicosanoic acid

Antioxidants Present In Sweet Tomatoes

Aside the numerous proximate, mineral and vitamins present in sweet tomato fruits, they also contain special antioxidants and bioactive compounds. The antioxidants present in the fruit are:

  • Alpha-tocopherol
  • Beta-tocopherol
  • Gamma-tocopherol
  • Delta-tocopherol
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Phenolic acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Anthocyanins
  • Vitamin C

Bioactive Compounds Present In Sweet Tomatoes

Sweet tomatoes is well parked with several bioactive compounds which fights against a wide spectrum of health diseases. We may not be able to list down all the phytochemical compounds, but we shall do well to present as many as possible that would be enough to get a clue about this wonderful plant fruits. they are:

  • Quercetin
  • Kaempferol
  • Naringenin
  • Caffeic acid
  • Rutin
  • Cblorogenic acid
  • Ferulic acid
  • P-Coumaric acid
  • Lycopene
  • Resveratrol
  • Cbrysin
  • Epicathechin
  • Catechin
  • Luteolin
  • Cinnamic acid
  • Phloretic acid
  • Sinapic acid
  • Vanillic acid

What Are The Benefits Of Sweet Tomatoes?

The health benefits of sweet tomatoes cannot be detached from its numerous nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and bioactive phytochemicals. They are, in fact, the reason why tomatoes possess such enormous benefits. They also possess fiber, which is beneficial for gastrointestinal diseases.

Sweet Tomatoes Are Beneficial For Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is affects the blood vessels and the heart. It is commonly caused by hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, diabetes and unhealthy lifestyle, such as minimal physical exercise, smoking, and consumption of excessive alcohol.

The bioactive compounds and antioxidants present in sweet tomatoes ameliorate the effect of cardiovascular diseases as well as suppress the chances of you developing it. One of the antioxidants, lycopene, inhibits factors that cause prothrombosis and those that play pro-inflammatory roles, thereby improving cardiovascular diseases.

High lycopene intake has also been reported to minimize the thickening of the intima wall and myocardial infaction.

Another bioactvie compound, lutein, reduces carotid artery intima-media thickness, especially in patients with atherosclerosis.

If you are treating cardiovascular related diseases, adding avocado seed powder to your sweet tomatoes juice may be the best synergy for a quicker recovery and protection from CVD. You may as well drink avocado seed tea along fresh sweet tomatoes.

Possess Anti-diabetes Properties

If you are diabetic or liable to develop diabetes, fresh sweet tomatoes may just the best home remedy. Aside lycopene, which exhibits antidiabetic activity, sweet tomatoes possess an arsenal of other bioactive compounds which targets specific pathways in diabetes disease. Some of the compounds, such as quercetin, caffeic and vanillic acids are antidiabetic. While caffeic acid is reduces the blood glucose levels, vanillic acid reduces blood pressure, plasma glucose and increases insulin by activating antioxidants, and thus reduces oxidative stress.

Chlorogenic acid and adiponectin receptor improves diabetic kidney fibrosis while ferulic acid reduces oxidative stress, prevents testicular damage and down-regulates both apoptosis and proinflammatory cytokine expression in diabetes.

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Sweet Tomatoes May Prevent Cancer Progression

It has been suggested by several studies that regular intake of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants may forestall the progression of cancer cell proliferations. Your fresh tomato is one of such fruits with high antioxidant and anticancer compounds.

Some studies have reported that high intake of tomatoes can confer protection from gastrointestinal tract cancer, is inversely correlated with colorectal cancer.

Quercetin is another anticancer compound present in fresh tomatoes. It prevents the proliferation of prostate cancer cells by increasing the levels of P(21), Bax and caspase-3, thereby preventing the expression of the cell cycle regulator cdc2/cdk-1, cyclin B1, phosphorylated P(RB) and apoptosis makers Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL.

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Lycopene For Prostate Cancer

Aside its antioxidant and anti–inflammatory properties, lycopene also functions as an anticancer agent. This has been proved by several experimental and animal model studies which have shown that the concentration of lycopene in serums and tissues could inhibit the growth of cancer cells in different organs and decrease their carcinogenesis. In addition, in regard the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant roles of lycopene, it can prevent cancer through some direct mechanisms, including modulating signaling, arresting cell cycles, inducting apoptosis and changing some enzymes and antioxidants, therefore these properties enable lycopene to prevent metastasis, invasion and angiogenesis of various cancer cells.

Other herbs you may want to take along sweet tomatoes for synergistic effects are soursop bitters, and pigeon pigeon pea leaves and roots.

May Improve Your Skin Immunity and Health

The carotenoids and tocopherols present in tomatoes strengthen the skin barrier and equip it with tools to cope with environmental insult. A study demonstrated a correlation between the barrier strength to specific skin appearance-related benefits such as reduction in redness and in pores and skin smoothening effect. We are also excited to report, for the first time, the existence of olfactory receptors in human dermal fibroblasts and their significant up regulation by GTE.

Sweet Tomatoes May Improve Fertility

Being enriched with vitamins C, E and folate, sweet tomato has been shown to improve fertility in both male and female. Folate is a well known molecule for improving fertility. Also vitamins C and E can increase fertility success rate by scavenging free radicals, which damage DNA in seminal plasma. By suppressing the adverse effects of oxidative species reproductive cells in both men and women, both the vitamins and folate increases the chances of conception in women, improves sperm quality such as sperm concentration, motility, vitality, and structural integrity.

This means that by constantly eating fresh sweet tomatoes, you increase you chances of having your own child. Good news, right? Eat more tomatoes then.

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Do Not Eat Rotten Tomatoes

In as much as tomatoes, especially sweet tomatoes, are quite nutritious, eating the rotten one, usually referred to as Awarawa among Nigerians, may possess a serious health risk to you. This is because the fungi that grow on the rotten tomato release a toxic substance called mycotoxin. Mycotoxin is so deadly it can cause cancer, liver toxicity and damage your immune systems. As cheap as it may be, the health risk it can cause you may take up your life savings.

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Side Effects Of Eating Tomatoes

Just as abusing foods can become toxic, when you eat too much of tomatoes, you sure would expect some side effects. Remember, these side effects are due to abuse of the tomato or intolerance to it. Some Of The Side Effects Are:

Heart Burn

Tomatoes contain excess amount of acidic compounds such as citric acid malic acid. In normal concentrations these acids aid in digestion of foods. However, when in excess, may force their way through the esophagus, thereby causing the burning sensation.

Irritability Of The Bowels

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you should be cautious of tomatoes, as it can trigger its symptoms.

Diarrhea

For someone suffering tomatoes intolerance, tomatoes may cause diarrhea when eating, as it set the gastrointestinal tract in disturbances.

Kidney disease

Although potassium is required for body functioning and to maintain homeostasis, a high intake potassium may be dangerous for a patient suffering kidney diseases, as the kidney will not be able to excrete it out of the body. This will lead to a disease condition called Hyperkalemia.

Some of the effects of high potassium are nausea, weakness, numbness and slow pulse.

 

References

Zou, Z.-Y.; Xu, X.-R.; Lin, X.-M.; Zhang, H.-B.; Xiao, X.; Ouyang, L.; Huang, Y.-M.; Wang, X.; Liu, Y.-Q. Effects of lutein and lycopene on carotid intima-media thickness in Chinese subjects with subclinical atherosclerosis: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Br. J. Nutr. 2014, 111, 474–480.

. Roy, S.; Metya, S.K.; Sannigrahi, S.; Rahaman, N.; Ahmed, F. Treatment with ferulic acid to rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes: Effects on oxidative stress, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and apoptosis in the pancreatic β cell. Endocrine 2013, 44, 369–379.

Roy, S.; Metya, S.K.; Rahaman, N.; Sannigrahi, S.; Ahmed, F. Ferulic acid in the treatment of post-diabetes testicular damage: Relevance to the down regulation of apoptosis correlates with antioxidant status via modulation of TGF-β1, IL-1β and Akt signalling. Cell Biochem. Funct. 2014, 32, 115–124.

Freudenhieim, J.L.; Graham, S.; Marshall, J.R.; Haughey, B.P.; Wilkinson, G. A case-control study of diet and rectal cancer in western new york. Am. J. Epidemiol. 1990, 131, 612–624. [CrossRef]

Ono, M. Takeshima, S. Nakano

Mechanism of the Anticancer Effect of Lycopene (tetraterpenoids), the EnzymesElsevier (2015), pp. 139-166

Bhuvaneswari, S. Nagini Lycopene: a review of its potential as an anticancer agent. Curr. Med. Chem. Anticancer Agents, 5 (2005), pp. 627-635

N.F. Gloria, N. Soares, C. Brand, F.L. Oliveira, R. Borojevic, A.J. Teodoro Lycopene and beta-carotene induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines Anticancer Res., 34 (2014), pp. 1377-1386

Tarshish, E, Hermoni, K, Sharoni, Y, Wertz, PW, Dayan, N. Effects of golden tomato extract on skin appearance—outlook into gene expression in cultured dermal fibroblasts and on trans-epidermal water loss and skin barrier in human subjects. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022; 21: 3022– 3030. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.14527

Fuhrman, B.; Ben-Yaish, L.; Attias, J.; Hayek, T.; Aviram, M. Tomato Lycopene and Beta-Carotene Inhibit Low Density Lipoprotein Oxidation and This Effect Depends on the Lipoprotein Vitamin E Content. Nutr. Metab. Cardiovasc. Dis. 1997, 7, 433–444.

Jie, K.S.; Bots, M.L.; Vermeer, C.; Witteman, J.C.; Grobbee, D.E. Vitamin K intake and osteocalcin levels in women with and without aortic atherosclerosis: A population-based study. Atherosclerosis 1995, 116, 117–123. [CrossRef]

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