What are the health benefits of tomatoes?

Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The tomato is most famous for its high content of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that prostrate, cervical, oral and gastrointestinal cancers have been prevented with high levels of lycopene. The more processed the tomato is, the more lycopene the tomatoes have. Whether you like tomato juice, tomato sauce or fresh sliced tomatoes and basil, be sure to include them in your diet every day.

Red, orange, yellow, green, purple—tomatoes come in as many colors as the rainbow, and each variety has its own distinct taste. An excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A, potassium and fiber, tomatoes are also low in calories (just 32 calories per cup).

Red tomatoes offer an additional benefit. Lycopene, the pigment that gives red tomatoes their color, appears to have strong antioxidant capabilities. Research suggests that a lycopene-rich diet may be associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.

Lesser known varieties, such as Black Prince, Green Zebra and White Queen, are becoming more common at farmers markets.

Eating 10 servings of tomato paste and tomato products a week helps prevent cancers such as prostate and breast cancer. The carotenoid found in tomatoes (lycopene), when eaten in conjunction with a bit of oil, provides an immune-strengthening antioxidant that has been shown to reduce prostate cancers and breast cancer. Lycopene may also prevent arterial aging.

The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

More About this Book

The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

Why not live at 60 feeling like you did at 35?Thousands of Americans are younger today than they were five years ago. How is that possible? By following the specific recommendations that reverse...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, which helps protect against heart disease. This red carotene has been shown to protect against cataracts, macular degeneration and various cancers. Lycopene neutralizes harmful oxygen free radicals before they can cause damage to your body.

This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Health Value Of Foods

You Need to Ace Vegetable Serves
You Need to Ace Vegetable Serves
In the 2010 Wimbledon Championship, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut served up the tennis ball for 11 hours and 5 minutes; the longest match ever. (Isner ...
Read More
What foods are good sources of sulfur-containing antibacterial compounds?
Dole Nutrition InstituteDole Nutrition Institute
In addition to garlic, sulfur sources include egg yolks, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprou...
More Answers
5 Top Foods for Your Heart, Plus 1 to Avoid
5 Top Foods for Your Heart, Plus 1 to Avoid5 Top Foods for Your Heart, Plus 1 to Avoid5 Top Foods for Your Heart, Plus 1 to Avoid5 Top Foods for Your Heart, Plus 1 to Avoid
What's best to eat for your ticker? A heart doctor weighs in. Seems like a new study comes out nearly every day telling us to eat this, not that. But ...
Start Slideshow
How Can I Choose Healthy Takeout Foods?
How Can I Choose Healthy Takeout Foods?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.