Tomatoes are often overlooked as a great source of vitamins and nutrients because they’re so common that we tend to take them for granted. After all, tomatoes are found in countless different countries and in countless different foods, like pasta, pizza, salsa, burgers, soups, sauces, and ketchup—just to name a few. Tomatoes are also a staple in many restaurant dishes, salad bars, fast food items, and even various beverages. The tomato’s popularity most likely stems from the tomato plant itself, because it’s hardy, easy to grow, and produces fruit quickly.

Yet, even though tomatoes are relatively unexciting, the health benefits of tomatoes are surprisingly impressive. (Ok, maybe it’s just me, but when I think of a fruit or vegetable that’s touted for its amazing health benefits, I think of some exotic plant from a faraway place, like the Amazon or Abu Dhabi or Seattle, that has purported magical properties and has been used for centuries by wise shamans and tribal medicine women to heal the afflicted and ward off evil spirits, not a tomato. Am I alone on this?)

Basically, the health benefits of tomatoes have, until now, been largely underrated, as most of us assume the versatile little fruit/vegetable thingies make a great addition to that ominous avocado toast and that’s about it. But some of the health benefits of tomatoes are nothing short of epic, and they go a little something like this:

Tomatoes can Counter Negative Effects of Cigarette Smoke.

According to several scientific studies, the two main components of tomatoes, coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, can ward off nitrosamine carcinogens which are found in the lungs of cigarette smokers. The high amount of vitamin A in tomatoes can also help reduce the cancerous effects of smoking and help protect the lungs from damage.

Tomatoes can Slow Oxidative Stress from Diabetes:

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study recently that showed eating tomatoes on a daily basis can reduces oxidative stress caused by type 2 diabetes. Oxidative stress happens when free radicals produced during metabolism damage otherwise healthy cells.

Tomatoes can Keep Your Skin Looking Youthful:

Daily consumption of tomatoes can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV-rays and air pollution. They also have known anti-aging properties when applied topically, due to the tomato’s unique combination of natural acids and antioxidants.

Tomatoes can Prevent Urinary Tract Infections:

A high level of vitamin C coupled with a high water content makes tomatoes a good choice for reducing the occurrence of urinary tract infections. Tomatoes are also a diuretic, which helps increases the elimination of toxins and bacteria responsible for the infections.

These and many other health benefits of tomatoes can be attributed to their abundance of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, thiamin, vitamin K, and an impressive amount of vitamin B6. Tomatoes are also high in dietary fiber and protein, something you’ll also find in Smart for Life products, like my favorite Luscious Lemon protein bars. It’s also important to note that tomatoes are great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient that may help prevent heart disease, hardening of the arteries, prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovarian, colon, and pancreatic cancers, human papilloma virus (HPV) infections, asthma and cataracts.

Wow. Fresh tomato salad and tomato basil bisque, anyone?