Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum Linn.) is considered as a vegetable, rather than its botanically as a form of fruit, due to it is mostly used as an ingredient for culinary purposes. Tomato, which in Bahasa Indonesia is known as tomat, has other binomial synonyms, such as, Lycopersicon lycopersicum (L.) H. Karst., and Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.
When I ate tomato as a dessert, first I sliced a tomato into four pieces, put them in a glass, added with few sugar, crushed and mixed the tomato with spoon, and enjoyed it. That's how I used to enjoy eating tomato, besides of having it as a fruit juice.
There are many health benefits of tomato, including the protection from tumors at various anatomy have been attributed to tomato. According to several scientific studies, tomato is believed to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-metastatic, antimutagenic, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective, and anti-neurodegenerative effects.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, β-carotene, α-tomatine, tomatidine, potassium, vitamin C, flavonoids, folate and vitamin E. Among tomato carotenoids, lycopene is the most active antioxidant. Lycopene acts as an antidiabetic agent through lowering the free radical, effectively at the dose of 90 mg/kg body weight, in a study using streptozotocin induced hyperglycaemic rats. (Ali MM, et al. 2009)
In a quasi experimental study, 32 type 2 diabetic patients received 200 g raw tomato daily for eight weeks. The study concluded that daily consumption of 200 g raw tomato, may decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, in which will be useful for reducing cardiovascular risk associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus. (Shidfar F, et al. 2011)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of human morbidity and mortality in developed countries. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables is recommended for CVD prevention. But, until now, many scientific studies mostly failed to show the effect of consumption of tomato in decreasing the risk of CVD. However, the antioxidant as well as the anti-inflammatory effects of lycopene, could be the background for cardioprotective effects of tomato, or tomato products.
In a study among 39,876 middle aged and older women initially free of CVD and cancer. Dietary intake of lycopene was not strongly associated with the risk of CVD. However, the higher consumption levels of tomato based products, such as, tomato sauce and pizza, had potential reductions in CVD risk, and give cardiovascular benefits. (Sesso HD, et al. 2003)
Lycopene inhibits lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell that is important in the formation of antibodies) proliferation (the growth and reproduction of similar cells) through mechanisms dependent on early cell activation, providing one possible mechanism to explain the beneficial effects of tomato rich diets against CVD. (Mills LM, et al. 2012)
Based on several observational studies, the benefit of tomato was strongest for prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. And were also suggested to treat pancreas, colon, rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast, and cervix cancers. However, multiple components derived from tomato may contribute to its anti-cancer properties, and higher consumption of tomato or any tomato based products is associated in lowering the risk of cancer.
The high α-tomatine from green tomato extracts strongly inhibited several human cancer cell lines, such as, breast, colon, gastric, and hepatoma. α-Tomatine was found to be highly effective in inhibiting the growth of all human cancer cell lines. (Friedman M, et al. 2009)
Recent study had found that tomatidine, an aglycone of glycoalkaloid tomatine in tomato, possessed anti-inflammatory properties and may serve as a chemosensitizer in multidrug-resistant tumor cells. Just like embelin in my previous post about vidanga, tomatidine significantly decreased the nuclear level of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB).
NF-κB is a transcription factor which regulates several genes associated with inflammation, proliferation, carcinogenesis, and apoptosis. The study also suggested that tomatidine may potentially use in anti-metastatic therapy, as a new therapeutic agent. (Yan KH, et al. 2013)
So, whatever the variety of tomatoes around the world, all them have huge benefits for us. And tomato based products may also contribute to our health. Stay healthy! Let us not waste our health to look for treasure (wealth) and then squandered our treasure to seek health!