Many people are currently turning into a popular form of dieting – the keto diet. Coupled with the desire to lose weight, health conditions, or eating healthily, the keto diet is proving to be helpful to many. However, there are certain foods the keto dieters are wondering if they should eat, tomato being one of them.
The ketogenic diet involves eating foods high in fat and restricting carb intake to 50 g per day. To successfully meet this requirement, the diet needs you to reduce your intake of foods that are rich in carbs, such as legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Botanists consider tomatoes to be a fruit, making many to wonder if they are keto-friendly. Read on to learn if tomatoes are truly a ketogenic food.
Ketosis – How to Achieve It on a Ketonic Diet
Normally, your body breaks down carbs into glucose and uses it for production of energy. With the ketogenic diet, which requires you to severely limit your carb intake, your body will start breaking down fats for energy. When fats are burnt, they produce ketones as byproducts, which are simple energy units. This metabolic activity puts your body in a state of ketosis. In most cases, the ketogenic diet is used to reduces episodes of seizures in epileptic people. That said, the diet has other health benefits, including improved heart health, support weight loss, improved blood sugar regulation, and even reduced risk of brain damage.
It is thus important to achieve and maintain ketosis. To do this, your body must rely on fat as its main source of energy instead of carbs. This can be made possible by ensuring that your carb intake of the daily calories, is reduced to five and ten percent, narrowing down total daily carb intake to 50 g. Since there are different types of ketogenic diet, calorie reduction will be streamlined by increasing your intake of calories sourced from fat, protein or both. For example, fruits like apples and pears are loaded with carbs, up to 25 g per serving. For this reason, they are grouped together with other foods high in carbs, including starchy vegetables, legumes, grains, and sugary foods, all of which are not included in the keto diet.
Tomatoes are the Same to Other Fruits
People think of tomatoes being vegetables, but botanically, they are fruits. While the keto diet restricts the consumption of fruits, it is a bit lenient on tomatoes. In fact, they are deemed keto-friendly. The keto dieters look at foods in terms of net carbs content. Tomatoes are keto-friendly because they are low in net carbs, with 100 g providing about two to three grams of carbs. To get net carbs, you will subtract fiber content from total carb content. For this reason, tomatoes can perfectly fit in the keto diet compared to other fruits. Other fruits that can also be included in the diet, such as zucchini, eggplant, avocado, peppers, and cucumbers. Tomatoes are also rich in other beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, fiber, potassium, folate, chlorogenic acid, naringenin, and lycopene – most of these may lack in your keto diet.
Net Carbs of Different Varieties of Tomato
Carb count tend to slightly vary from one variety of tomato to the other. According to the Food Data Central of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) database, Roma tomato contains 4.73 g total carbs, 0.7 g of fiber, and 4.03 g net carbs. Grape tomato contains 5.51 g total carbs, 2.1 g of fiber, and 3.41 g net carbs. Green tomato contains 5.1 g total carbs, 1.1 g of fiber, and 4 g net carbs. Cherry tomatoes contain 4.96 g total carbs, 1.7 g of fiber, and 3.26 g net carbs. San Marzano tomato contains 4.35 g total carbs, 0.9 g of fiber, and 3.45 g net carbs. Italiana also known as plum tomato, contains 4.13 g total carbs, 0.8 g of fiber, and 3.33 g net carbs.
Are Tomato-Based Foods Keto-Friendly?
While the keto diet considers raw tomatoes friendly to the diet, some foods made with tomatoes are not keto-friendly. For one reason, most of these foods contain added sugars, which can increase your intake of carbs. This may include, tomato paste, salsa, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, and tomato juice. Before using or purchasing these products, it will be best to check their ingredient label and avoid those with added sugars. Sundried tomatoes are also not fit in the ketogenic diet. Compared to raw tomatoes, they contain less water, which concentrates carbs in them up to 23.5 g in 54 g cup. If you can’t avoid it, it will help to limit your intake of it.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a nutritious fruit that have been associated with several health benefits. Here are some of them:
May Improve Immune System
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. The National Institutes of Health database states that about 19 percent of this antioxidant can be sourced from one medium raw tomato. Vitamin C can neutralize free radicals and protect your cells from oxidative damage, thus boosting the immune system. The skin of tomatoes also contains a powerful flavonoid antioxidant – naringenin – which can improve your immune function.
May Support a Healthy Digestion
Tomatoes are also loaded with fiber. Fiber bypasses digestion adding bulk to stool, which may help prevent digestion problems like constipation. Fiber also feeds the healthy gut bacteria, and increase bowel regularity.
Tomatoes and Heart Health
Unhealthy eating is a contributing factor to heart disease. Including tomatoes in your diet increase the levels of potassium in the blood. Studies have shown that this mineral may help support heart health by reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. It is thought that it does this by lowering blood pressure. Lycopene, which gives tomatoes their red color, can also protect your cardiovascular system from diseases.
Tomatoes are a healthy and nutritious fruit. They contain beneficial nutrients, including fiber and a few carbs. For this reason, tomatoes can be added to the keto diet to help achieve and maintain ketosis.