Whether tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is not certain. What is indeed certain is that it is “functional food”, that is, it provides more than just basic nutrition. A plant which was once considered poisonous has other health benefits due to the presence of lycopene.
[Also read, Health Benefits Of Eating Tomato, Nutritional Facts, Calories]
Tomatoes – A Little Introduction
Scientifically called Solanum Lycopersicum, the tomato belongs to the nightshade family of Solanaceae. Tomatoes originated in the Central and South Americas. In Mexico, they were first used in food, and eventually spread throughout the world. The tomato is consumed in a variety of ways: raw, cooked, and as an ingredient in numerous dishes, sauces, drinks, and salads.
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Why Can Tomatoes Be Bad For You?
Though they are usually safe for consumption, they can cause complications in some people. Some of the issues tomatoes can cause include acid reflux, effects of intolerance, muscle aches, etc. Even the leaf of the tomato plant can be unsafe. In large amounts, it can cause vomiting, dizziness, headache, and, in severe cases, even death.
Another major factor contributing to this dark side of tomatoes is lycopene, the very compound that, quite surprisingly, is responsible for its benefits as well. Lycopene can also increase the risk of bleeding and must be avoided by people with bleeding disorders. [Also read, Living On ‘Junk Food’ May Higher The Risk Of Colorectal Cancer!]
Lycopene In Tomatoes
Lycopene is safe in most cases. But lycopene supplements may not be safe during pregnancy. Lycopene can also aggravate the symptoms of prostate cancer. Lycopene must be used cautiously in patients who have stomach ulcers and other stomach issues. The compound can also cause low blood pressure. Individuals on blood pressure lowering medication must stay away from lycopene.
While the utility of tomatoes is well-established, one shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the side effects they can threaten your health with, if you go overboard on them. ‘Excess of everything is bad’, runs the saying and it is true for these lush red veggies too. We tell you how tomatoes, Neruda’s ‘benign majesty’, can wreak havoc on your health if you don’t practice moderation while including them in your juices and dishes. Here are some health conditions associated with them.
According to a study published in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, excessive consumption of lycopene can increase your risk of prostate cancer. However, lycopene content in tomatoes remains high only when it is raw. After cooking, its levels go down. So, if you are a tomato lover, avoid having it raw in salads or juices.
You will find a complex compound known as histamine in tomatoes. This compound can be involved in the inflammatory response that leads to allergies or skin rashes. This allergy is medically known as type 1 hypersensitivity to tomatoes. Basically, these are contact allergies. If you are allergic to tomatoes, coming in contact with it can lead to the release of histamine in the exposed areas (skin, nose, and respiratory and digestive tracts). This can cause an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to this vegetable you can develop certain symptoms instantly after having it in any form. The symptoms include coughing, sneezing, hives, skin reactions, eczema, irritation in the throat, swelling of the face, mouth, and tongue, etc.
Love tomato juice? Don’t use canned tomatoes for the preparation. Buy fresh ones from your supermarket. Canned tomatoes are rich in sodium. So, they are likely to increase your blood pressure. Too much sodium retains excess fluid in the body increased the burden on your heart. Excessive consumption of canned tomatoes increases the risk of stroke, stomach cancer, kidney disease, osteoporosis, heart failure, etc.
According to a study published in the journal Family Practice, eating a lot of tomatoes can cause gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Due to the presence of malic acid and citric acid, tomatoes can make your stomach way too acidic. After the initiation of digestion, the acidic contents of the tomatoes result in the release of excess gastric acid in your stomach. This excess acid flows back in the food pipe, causing uneasiness, heartburn, or acid reflux. Therefore, people suffering from digestive stress or having symptoms of GERD should either avoid tomatoes or have them in moderation.
Tomatoes come with a lot of calcium and oxalate. Your body is not capable of breaking down these excessive amounts of these elements and flushing them out. This can lead to calcium and oxalate to deposit in your body resulting in kidney stones. The symptoms of a kidney stone include pain while urinating, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, sharp pain your back, etc.
Tomato contains an alkaloid called solanine. Its presence in this red vegetable is responsible for the accumulation of calcium in your tissues. This may result in inflammation and further lead to swelling and pain in the joints. Solanine also contains histamine. If the levels of this complex chemical increase, you may experience excruciating pain during movement. That is how excessive consumption of tomatoes can lead to the development of arthritis.
Do you feel bloated after a meal? Check if you are having too many tomatoes. The indigestible skin and seeds of this vegetable can actually trigger irritable bowel movements resulting in bloating.
Tomatoes are jam-packed with a plant nutrient called lycopene. This chemical is considered good for your health. However, the excess amount of lycopene can lead to Lycopenodermia. It is a condition in which lycopene accumulation in the blood of a person leads to discoloration of the skin. The affected area may appear to be deep orange. This condition is self-limiting and doesn’t have serious consequences.
A bacterium known as Salmonella may be present in tomatoes. It is responsible for causing diarrhea. Generally, people do not get this condition after having tomatoes. However, people allergic to this vegetable may develop. This is because of the presence of excess acidic and greasy contents in them. They may lead to an uncontrolled bowel movement, increasing your trips to the bathroom.