Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but they are very low on the glycemic index, which is why we tend to include them in the vegetable category.
The Nutritional Benefits of Tomatoes
There is nothing wrong with this slight mislabel. Tomatoes are very good for you, as they are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A and various B vitamins. Specifically, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants available to us.
Anti-oxidants are necessary for maintaining our immune health, mostly by lowering inflammation and, as the name suggests, preventing oxidation of fats in our blood stream. This is extremely important because, although high cholesterol won’t necessarily kill us, oxidized cholesterol is very dangerous. It is the oxidized cholesterol that tends to latch onto our arterial walls, forming plaque and inflammation.
Paleo and Autoimmune Protocol
Despite the numerous health benefits they convey for most of us, tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family, and as such, they tend to cause digestive problems in some people. If you know this to be the case for you, then you definitely stay away from tomatoes. If you are unsure of your tolerance for nightshades, the best way to find out is to eliminate them from your diet for at least 30 days, then slowly reintroduce them and note how they make you feel.
For those of us without any problems with nightshades, tomatoes can make an excellent addition to a Paleo diet. If you still need more reasons to eat plants, check out this TED talk.