Tomatoes are a versatile food because they can be eaten raw or cooked, mixed in sauces, or tossed in salads. Even if you do not like the taste of tomato in its purest form, you can still enjoy a variety of benefits by eating cooked tomatoes. Organic tomatoes and tomato products are a great choice because they are exposed to fewer chemicals during the growing and manufacturing processes.

Tomatoes are such a healthy food a database was developed to organize the health research related to tomatoes. The Tomato Products Wellness Council provides the most up-to-date information about the health benefits of tomatoes. This includes recent information about tomatoes and inflammation, heart health, stroke, and more. The list below includes eight health benefits you might be surprised to learn about tomatoes.

1. Tomatoes help control blood sugar. This is because of their high chromium content. Tomatoes are a great snack option for diabetics and for avoiding the intense hunger spikes that lead to food binges. When your blood sugar plummets, you feel moody, sluggish, irritable, and famished, increasing your desire to eat too much of the wrong foods. Eating a tomato before reaching the point of intense hunger wards off the desire to binge.

2. Another reason tomatoes are great for controlling blood sugar is their vitamin B and potassium content. Vitamin B and potassium are also known for lowering high cholesterol levels and reducing the risk for stroke and heart attack. Tomatoes are a great heart healthy food.

3. Tomatoes support healthy vision. This is because tomatoes are high in vitamin A, which improves day and night vision. Whether you wear glasses now or you want to keep your vision healthy for years to come, tomatoes can help.

4. Tomatoes are healthy for your hair and skin. They contain lycopene, which is an ingredient used in many facial cleansers. You can enjoy these skincare benefits by pulling the skin from tomatoes and placing them on your face like a mask for about 10 minutes. Eating tomatoes helps build healthy hair from the inside out, but you can also create a paste from mashed tomatoes and apply it to your hair as a conditioner to add shine.

5. Tomatoes may have a number of cancer prevention benefits. That high lycopene content is not only great for your skin and hair it also reduces your risk for stomach and colorectal cancer, as well as prostate cancer in men. A 2007 medical study at the University of Illinois showed that the consumption of tomatoes and broccoli led to a reduction in the size of prostate cancer tumors. There is also evidence that tomatoes reduce testosterone levels, which can affect hormone-related cancers.

6. In addition to lycopene, tomatoes contain vitamins A and C, which are known antioxidants. These substances neutralize the free radicals that are known to cause cell damage in the body. Cooked tomatoes do not offer the same vitamin C advantages as raw tomatoes, so you should eat a mix of cooked and raw varieties for the best variety of benefits.

7. Tomatoes are thought to reduce the risk of kidney and gallstones. Most health research shows that avoiding tomato seeds is the best way to use tomatoes in this heath battle.

8. Tomatoes are packed with vitamin K and calcium, which helps to strengthen bones. Calcium and vitamin K are also great for bone tissue repair after an injury. If you are on the mend, toss a few tomatoes in a salad or enjoy a warm cup of tomato soup during your recovery.