Tomatoes are popular in the kitchen, among athletes, and even in the beauty industry. As a juice, how does this fruit stack up nutritionally?
7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Tomato Juice
1. Excellent Source of Antioxidant
Out of all the antioxidants, lycopene is a house-hold name at this point and commonly associated with tomatoes. This is with good reason as there are many health benefits associated with lycopene. Many of the health benefits from tomato and tomatoes based products are from lycopene.
Antioxidants play an important role in our body by neutralizing free-radicals. Free-radicals are produced in our body by normal metabolic processes, stress, tumors, and toxins we are exposed to in our everyday lives. They need to be neutralized because they are highly unstable molecules that are capable of damaging our DNA, causing mutation, and cell damage.
Tomato juice is effective against these free-radicals and plays a major role in free-radical neutralization by stimulating the enzymes involved in this process.
Living in a polluted environment with a sedentary lifestyle, many of us could use a glass of tomato juice for a quick antioxidant kick!
2. Good Source of Nutrients
Tomatoes are rich in nutrients including vitamin A, B complex, C, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. As discussed, it is also rich in powerful antioxidants.
Tomato is particularly rich in vitamins A and C. 1 medium size tomato yields 20% of vitamin A and 40% of vitamin C of the daily recommended dose for these vitamins. Very significant for a single medium-sized tomato!
Tomato is, therefore, believed to be good for your eyes as vitamin A plays a role in eye health maintenance. The high vitamin C content makes tomatoes quite popular in the beauty industry as well.
Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen. Collagen plays a major role in maintaining the elasticity of our skin, joints, wound healing, etc. Vitamin C is also important for immunity. It is this collagen that keeps your skin wrinkle-free and naturally declines as we age. Collagen is also prone to damage by free radicals, which is readily neutralized by the antioxidants of tomatoes.
If you are looking for a healthy juice for good skin health, this is the juice for you.
3. Great for Your Heart
Lycopene is also associated with cardiac protection, according to research. Attributed to the components lycopene, beta-carotene, and gamma-carotene, tomato is known to play a role in cardiovascular disease prevention.
These components reduce the level of LDL cholesterol (aka the bad cholesterol) and also prevent oxidation of this LDL cholesterol. The oxidation of LDL cholesterol involves the reaction of LDL with free-radicals and the production of harmful complexes. It is this oxidized LDL that leads to the formation of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the deposition of this oxidized LDL which narrows down and weakens our blood vessels and leads to heart diseases like heart attack, angina, peripheral vascular diseases, and even stroke.
Thus, the nutrients in tomatoes play a role in maintaining the health of our blood vessels to help prevent cardiac diseases.
4. May Prevent Certain Cancers
A study on mice reported that tomatoes prevented cancer-inducing mutations in the cells. This overall prevented the development of cancer and may lead to increased life-expectancy in some instances.
It was also observed that on exposure to certain carcinogenic agents, major enzymes involved in the neutralization of free-radicals were depressed. But following oral intake of tomato juice, significant activation of those enzymes was noted. This means tomato juice consumption significantly neutralized free-radicals, which may be key in the prevention of certain types of cancer.
5. Weight Loss Drink
One study showed that tomato juice consumption (280 ml for 2 months) was linked to a reduction in total body fat, waist circumference, and overall weight.
Tomato is rich in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber (more than 80%). Insoluble fiber is the fiber that is not digested by the body. This keeps us full for a longer period of time, thus increasing satiety and preventing over-eating.
On top of that, tomato is a very low-calorie food. 1 medium-sized tomato contains only 25 calories. This makes tomato juice a low-calorie beverage to enjoy instead of often high caloric fruit juice blends.
6. Great Pre and Post-Workout Drink
Drinking tomato juice before a workout may reduce the oxidative stress an athlete undergoes while exercising. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the number of free-radicals and their neutralization. People who perform high-intensity workouts produce free-radicals while working out and therefore are at a higher risk of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress can also reduce the aerobic capacity and thus reduces performance. This may be tackled by simply drinking a glass of tomato juice before your workout. Using tomato juice as a supplement may reduce oxidative stress during a workout, all thanks to lycopene.
A workout is often followed by sore muscles and fatigue. Tomato juice can help here as well, as it has been shown tofor reduce post-workout soreness and fatigue.
Overall, if your workout performance is good, and if the post-workout recovery time is less, you might be more willing to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. The benefits of regular exercise are well known. Tomato juice could be your perfect workout companion!
7. Safe For Pregnant Women
Tomato juice may have health benefits specifically for pregnant women.
Anemia in pregnancy is a serious issue in many parts of the world and can lead to fatal complications in pregnancy. If you are at risk of anemia or if you are anemic, tomato juice could be a good natural supplement (NOT a replacement to iron tablets prescribed to you during pregnancy), for anemia. Tomato juice consumption in pregnancy is linked with improved hemoglobin levels.
It may also have a benefit for pregnant women with hypertension. Studies have found that lycopene may reduce blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) in pregnant women with hypertension.
High blood pressure in pregnancy could lead to many severe pregnancy-related complications, including IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) and fetal death An appropriate level of blood pressure must be maintained throughout the pregnancy. Tomato juice can be your first step in doing just that.
Prenatal exposure to fruit juices might be beneficial for the baby as well. In a study conducted in rats, in which pregnant rats were fed a combination of tomato and orange juice, it was found that the progeny of the group of rats that were fed the juice had better memory and less generalized anxiety behavior in early infancy when compared to the control group. They overall had higher learning scores. Surprisingly, similar effects were not seen when orange juice and tomato juice were given individually. Another animal study showed tomato juice contributing to an improvement in cognitive development in infants.
Are There Any Downsides To Tomato Juice?
Tomato is quite safe for general moderate consumption use, including pregnant women. It is overall very safe; no teratogenic effects or long-term systemic side-effects have been associated with tomato use.
Long-term extremely high doses of lycopene intake can cause lycopene accumulation in the liver. Although, this is reversible and has not been associated with short-term or long-term liver dysfunction.
The only visible side-effect of a high amount of lycopene consumption is lycopenemia, which causes the skin to turn orange. This condition is fully reversible with cessation of tomato consumption. It is thought that 3 weeks of tomato-free diet would completely reverse this skin discoloration.
How to Prepare Tomato Juice At Home
You can purchase ready-made pure tomato juice at the market. Some brands sell pure tomato juice while others have others use tomato as part of a vegetable or fruit juice blend. Some brands may also have added sodium. If you are hypertensive or have been advised to limit sodium, you want to avoid these brands.
If you prefer home-made tomato juice, you can make this beverage at home. The process of making tomato juice at home differs from the process of making many other fruit and vegetable juices.
First, chop your desired amount of tomatoes into coarse chunks. Place the chopped tomato in a pan and cook it until it is soft/soupy. Be mindful not to overcook, you only want to soften the tomatoes. Once softened, pass the paste you created through a strainer to remove any larger chunks. Let it cool and enjoy! You can also use a food processor or blender by blending the chopped tomatoes and straining the mixture through a strainer.
This is the basic tomato juice, but you can add more ingredients to it. Try different combinations of seasonings like salt, pepper, chili powder, etc. You can also add other vegetable juices, whole vegetables, or herbs in your tomato juice.
The advantage of home-made tomato juice is that you know exactly what it contains and you can always modify it according to your taste.
Remember that juice in general can be enjoyed in moderation and consumption should be limited to one of your daily fruit and vegetable servings.
Tomato juice seems to be one of the healthier juices out there, useful in quite a variety of scenarios, with no long-term side-effects.
Although preparing it at home involves a little more effort than simply running through a juicer, the health benefits offered make it worth the effort. You can prepare large quantities at once and refrigerate your tomato juice to be enjoyed over a period of a few days.
Enjoy this nutrient-filled healthful juice!