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Tomato For Diabetes


The tomato is the fruit of the plant Lycopersicon esculentum. It can also be classified as a berry as it forms from a single ovary. There are thousands of different kinds of tomatoes which vary in shape, size and color. From the small cherry tomatoes to the pear – shaped Italian ones, all of these versatile fruits have been used in different cuisines throughout the world. The tomato can be used for diabetes management.
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Controlling blood sugar levels is an important part of diabetes management. For diabetics, healthy glucose levels can be achieved by a proper whole food diet in conjunction with stress management and exercise. Because of their low carbohydrate content, tomatoes can play a big role in controlling blood sugar levels. The low carbohydrate content also helps lower calorie intake and can help diabetics to lose weight. Tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants and help restore the body’s oxidative balance. Eating foods with high levels of antioxidants may help reduce the risk of complications associated with adult diabetes. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, all conventional antioxidants. They also contain high levels of phytonutrients like flavones and carotenes like lycopene and lutein. These antioxidants protect the body by reducing lipid peroxidation. This is a process of oxygen damage to fats in the bloodstream or in cell membranes. Antioxidants also protect the body by increasing enzyme function. Studies involving tomatoes have shown that its antioxidant properties offer protection to the kidneys and bloodstream, two areas that are frequently affected by diabetes. More information on diet for diabetes

Many diabetics also suffer from heart diseases. Tomatoes contain many ingredients which help support the body’s cardiovascular system. There are two main lines of research that link tomatoes to a healthy heart. The first involves antioxidant support while the second line of research involves fat regulation in the blood.

The heart is responsible for pumping blood which is responsible for supplying oxygen to the body. Antioxidants play a crucial role in checking the damage caused by oxygen. Here, vitamins C & E, available in high concentrations in tomatoes, play a very important role in minimizing the damage caused by oxidation. The carotenoid lycopene is another nutrient found in tomatoes that supports the heart. Lycopene has the ability to reduce the level of lipid peroxidation in the blood. Lipid peroxidation is the process in which fats in the blood or in the membranes of cells gets damaged by oxidation. The body’s immune system responds to this damage and sets off a series of reactions that can ultimately lead to atherosclerosis and a blocking of the arteries. Lycopene helps to prevent this damage from occurring.

 

The second line of research explores the link between tomatoes and the regulation of fats in the blood. Diets rich in tomatoes have been shown to improve the fat profile of blood. Total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels all decrease. Lycopene helps to retard the accumulation of cholesterol molecules in macrophage cells. These cells are a kind of white blood cell, and their accumulation of cholesterol is what causes atherosclerosis.

Another area where tomatoes help heart health involves blood cells called platelets. Blood platelets help in blood clotting and excessive platelet levels can cause blockages and unwanted clotting. In diabetics, platelets tend to be ‘stickier’ resulting in excessive clotting. This is why diabetics are prone to strokes and heart diseases. Tomatoes contain numerous phytonutrients which help reduce this tendency of platelets to clump together, thus decreasing the risk of blockages forming in the blood vessels. Combined with the other benefits to the heart described above, the ability of tomatoes to regulate platelet aggregation makes them a very effective means of maintaining heart health. Studies have also shown that eating about 200 grams of raw tomatoes can result in a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in diabetics.

Other nutrients found in tomatoes play a big role in bone health and cancer prevention. Alpha tomatine, a phytonutrient found in tomatoes, has the ability to alter metabolic activity in prostate cancer cells. It can also trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in fully formed prostate cancer cells. Similar results have also been seen in cases of non-small cell lung cancer. Studies involving Lycopene have shown that it can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Studies have shown that diets with high tomato content lower the risk of developing neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous studies have linked tomato rich diets with a reduced risk of obesity. Some of the other essential nutrients in tomatoes are:

  • Vitamin K – it helps promote good bone health
  • Vitamin B1, B2 & B6 - help promote heart health
  • Molybdenum – promotes enzyme production
  • Chromium and manganese – help balance blood sugar
  • Iron – healthy blood
  • Phosphorus & copper– promotes good bone health
  • Proteins – helps build muscles
With all these numerous benefits, it is no surprise that tomatoes are recommended by dietitians for diabetic patients.
Submitted on January 16, 2014
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