Learn about the latest science on the health benefits of tomato products.

Every bite of tomato products—from canned tomatoes to tomato soup to marinara sauce—contains nutrients that offer potent health benefits. In fact, a body of science over the past two decades, which includes hundreds of studies on human health outcomes, has found a variety of health benefits associated with consuming tomato products. 

Known Health Benefits of Tomato Products

The documented health benefits for eating tomato products include the following:

  • Lycopene Boost. Tomato products are rich in the powerful antioxidant group, carotenoids, which have been shown to inactivate free radicals, protect against cancer, and slow development of atherosclerosis. The most plentiful carotenoid is lycopene and tomato products are responsible for more than 80% of the lycopene in the U.S. diet.  Research suggests that lycopene may be a big factor behind the health-protective effects of tomato products. Lycopene in processed tomatoes is much better absorbed than that of fresh tomatoes. In addition, the lycopene in tomatoes appears to have synergistic effects with other nutrients in foods.  
  • Prostate Cancer Protection. Research supports that eating lycopene-rich food sources like tomato products may help reduce the risk of some forms of cancer, such as digestive tract and pancreatic cancers, but the bulk of the cancer-protective evidence is linked with prostate cancer. Substantial evidence indicates eating tomato products and foods containing lycopene probably protects against cancer.  
  • Heart-health Benefits. Regular intake of tomato products has been consistently associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.  
  • Protection Against Oxidative Stress and Inflammation. Eating foods rich in antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids, such as tomato products, is linked with reducing oxidative stress markers and the LDL-oxidation process, as well as inflammation—key factors that help protect against developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Improves Cholesterol Levels. One of tomato products’ heart health benefits is improved blood lipid profiles, according to some studies. 
  • Anti-Platelet Activity. Tomato products appear to have anti-platelet compounds that are concentrated in the yellow fluid around the seeds, which may inhibit platelet aggregation, further protecting against cardiovascular disease.  
  • Control Blood Pressure. Low-sodium tomato products—naturally rich in potassium—have the perfect nutritional profile to fit into the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. Research is confirming that tomato products may aid in treating high blood pressure. 

What Does the Latest Science Say About Tomato Health? 

Research continues to pour in on tomato health benefits. Tomato Products Wellness Council conducted a review of the research published during 2022-2024 on human health outcomes associated with tomatoes, tomato products, and lycopene on PubMed. A total of 235 studies were reviewed during this period. We found a continued focus among researchers on cardiovascular health, hypertension, prostate cancer, inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular health. Newer areas of interest in studies included diabetes, gut microbiota, aging disorders, and anti-microbial benefits. 

Here’s a look at some nutrition highlights from recent studies on tomato health benefits:

  • Antimicrobial properties against Salmonella found in tomato juice (Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2024).
  • The culinary practice of sofrito (cooked tomatoes) reduces cardiovascular disease through reduced platelet activation (Nutrients, 2023).
  • Carotenoids (i.e., lycopene) in tomatoes and tomato-based foods are among the most studied foods for clinical trials on human health, with recent attention to eye and cardiovascular health, cognitive function, gut microbiota interactions, and bioavailability (Nutrients, 2022).
  • Tomatoes in the Mediterranean diet are high in melatonin, which increases antioxidant status (Antioxidants, 2023).
  • Lycopene-rich foods have clinical applications to alleviate aging and aging disorders (Food Sci Nutr, 2023).
  • Lower risk of new-onset hypertension with 10-13 g/day tomato juice (Nutrients, 2022).
  • Scientific review on the accumulation of research on the protective effects of lycopene on coronary artery disease and hypertension, the leading causes of death worldwide (Antioxidants, 2022).
  • Lycopene is potent antioxidant for type 2 diabetes, effective for glycemic control and oxidative stress biomarkers (Molecules, 2022).

The future seems bright when it comes to the potential for tomato products to provide health bonuses. Given that tomato products are budget-friendly, culturally relevant, simple to use, and delicious, these foods can easily be included in the diet at least a few times per week to help promote optimal health. 

Written by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

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