If you were assembling a “dream team” of healthy foods, you’d want the tomato to be your first draft pick. Here’s why:
- First: Tomatoes are good for your skin. In one study, people who ate just 2 ounces of tomato paste a day had a 33% increase in skin protection against U-V rays. That’s because tomatoes are the best source of a powerful antioxidant called lycopene which increases the skin’s natural resistance to sunlight.
- The second reason tomatoes belong on your plate: They protect against 3 major killers: cancer, stroke and heart disease. Again, we can thank lycopene. The American Cancer Society reports that people with high levels of lycopene in their blood have lower rates of prostate, lung and stomach cancer. And studies show that lycopene improves blood flow, especially in tiny capillaries, which is why regular tomato eaters have 25% fewer heart attacks, and are almost 60% less likely to have a stroke. But you can’t rely on supplements, you need to eat the real thing. In studies that compared tomato-based foods to vitamin supplements, the supplements didn’t offer the same protection.
- And the last reason tomatoes should be on your nutritional “dream team”: They help you sleep. Tomatoes are a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin. Plus, they’re loaded with vitamin C. And a University of Pennsylvania study found that people who consumed the most vitamin C had an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep at night.