Tomato juice is a popular beverage that provides a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and potent antioxidants.
It’s particularly rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant with impressive health benefits.
However, some believe that tomato juice may not be as healthy as whole tomatoes due to the high sodium content found in certain brands.
This article discusses the potential health benefits and downsides of tomato juice.
Tomato juice is highly nutritious
Tomato juice is a popular drink, made from the juice of fresh tomatoes.
Though you can buy pure tomato juice, many popular products — such as V8 — combine it with the juice of other vegetables like celery, carrots, and beets.
Here is the nutrition information for 1 cup (240 ml) of 100% canned tomato juice:
- Calories: 41
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin A: 22% of the daily value
- Vitamin C: 74% of the daily value
- Vitamin K: 7% of the daily value
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 8% of the daily value
- Niacin (vitamin B3): 8% of the daily value
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B6): 13% of the daily value
- Folate (vitamin B9): 12% of the daily value
- Magnesium: 7% of the daily value
- Potassium: 16% of the daily value
- Copper: 7% of the daily value
- Manganese: 9% of the daily value
As you can see, tomato juice is highly nutritious and packs in many important vitamins and minerals.
For example, drinking just 1 cup (240 ml) of tomato juice nearly covers your daily needs for vitamin C and fulfills 22% of your vitamin A requirements in the form of alpha- and beta-carotenoids.
Carotenoids are pigments that are converted into vitamin A in your body.
This vitamin is essential for healthy vision and tissue maintenance.
These carotenoids are not only converted into vitamin A but also act as potent antioxidants, protecting your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.
Free radical damage has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease and is believed to play a role in the aging process.
Additionally, tomato juice is loaded with magnesium and potassium — two minerals vital for heart health.
It’s also an excellent source of B vitamins, including folate and vitamin B6, which are important for your metabolism and many other functions.
Summary: Tomato juice is high in many vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health, including vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium.
Tomato juice is high in antioxidants
Tomato juice is a concentrated source of powerful antioxidants like lycopene, a carotenoid plant pigment that has been linked to impressive health benefits.
Americans get more than 80% of their lycopene from tomatoes and products like tomato juice.
Lycopene protects your cells from free radical damage, thereby reducing inflammation in your body.
Many studies have shown that drinking lycopene-rich tomato juice has beneficial effects on your health — specifically by reducing inflammation.
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For example, a 2-month study in 30 women found that those who drank 1.2 cups (280 ml) of tomato juice daily — containing 32.5 mg of lycopene — had significant reductions in blood levels of inflammatory proteins called adipokines.
What’s more, the women experienced significant increases in blood levels of lycopene and significant reductions in cholesterol and waist circumference.
Another study in 106 overweight women noted that drinking 1.4 cups (330 ml) of tomato juice daily for 20 days significantly reduced inflammatory markers, such as interleukin 8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), compared to a control group.
Additionally, a 5-week study in 15 people showed that participants who drank 0.6 cups (150 ml) of tomato juice per day — equal to 15 mg of lycopene — had significantly reduced serum levels of 8-Oxo-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) after extensive physical exercise.
8-oxodG is a marker of DNA damage caused by free radicals. High levels of this marker have been linked to chronic diseases, such as breast cancer and heart disease.
Aside from lycopene, tomato juice is also an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene — two other antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Summary: Tomato juice is a concentrated source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce inflammation in many studies. It also contains the potent antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Tomato juice may reduce chronic disease risk
Research has shown that diets rich in tomatoes and tomato products like tomato juice may reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases.
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Tomato juice may improve heart disease risk factors
Tomatoes have long been associated with improved heart health.
They contain potent antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, which help reduce heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fat buildup in your arteries (atherosclerosis).
A review including 584 people discovered that those who had diets rich in tomatoes and tomato products had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who had a low intake of tomatoes.
Another review of 13 studies found that lycopene from tomato products taken in doses over 25 mg per day lowered levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by about 10% and significantly reduced blood pressure.
For reference, 1 cup (240 ml) of tomato juice provides approximately 22 mg of lycopene.
What’s more, a review of 21 studies associated supplementing with tomato products with significant reductions in levels of “bad” LDL-cholesterol, the inflammatory marker IL-6, and notable improvements in blood flow.
Tomato juice may protect against certain cancers
Due to its high levels of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, tomato juice has been shown to have anticancer effects in several studies.
A review of 24 studies associated a high intake of tomatoes and tomato products with a significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer.
In a test-tube study, lycopene extract derived from tomato products inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells and even induced apoptosis or cell death.
Animal studies also observe that tomato products may have a protective effect against skin cancer.
Mice that were fed red tomato powder for 35 weeks had significantly less skin cancer development after being exposed to UV light than mice on a control diet.
Though these results are promising, more research is needed to understand how tomatoes and products like tomato juice may affect cancer development in humans.
Summary: Tomato juice and other tomato products may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. However, more research in this area is needed.
Potential downsides of tomato juice
Though tomato juice is highly nutritious and may offer impressive health benefits, it does have some downsides.
Its biggest drawback may be that most types are high in sodium. Many tomato juice products contain added salt — which bumps up the sodium content.
For example, a 1.4-cup (340-ml) serving of Campbell’s 100% tomato juice contains 980 mg of sodium — which is 43% of the daily value.
Diets high in sodium may be problematic, especially for people who are considered salt-sensitive.
Certain groups of people, such as African Americans, are more likely to be negatively affected by high-sodium foods.
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Plus, research shows that diets high in sodium may contribute to high blood pressure.
Another downfall of tomato juice is that it’s slightly lower in fiber than whole tomatoes. That said, tomato juice is still higher in fiber than many other fruit drinks like apple juice and pulp-free orange juice.
Be aware that many tomato drinks have other fruits added to them, which can increase calorie and sugar content. Some versions may even contain added sugars.
When searching for a healthy variety, choose 100% tomato juice with no salt or sugars added.
Additionally, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may want to avoid tomato juice as it can worsen symptoms.
Summary: Certain types of tomato juice can be high in sodium and may contain added sugars. This juice may also worsen symptoms for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Should you drink tomato juice?
Tomato juice can be a healthy drink choice for many people.
Nutrient-dense tomato juice makes an excellent choice for those with increased nutrient needs, such as older adults and those who smoke.
For example, people who smoke cigarettes need more vitamin C than those who don’t. Since tomato juice is particularly high in this nutrient, it may be a smart choice if you smoke.
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Many older people have limited food access and tend to eat fewer nutritious foods. Tomato juice can be a convenient and tasty way to help you meet your requirements for many nutrients.
What’s more, replacing unhealthy drinks, such as fruit punch, soda, and other sweetened beverages, with tomato juice is a healthy way for anyone to improve their diet.
Drinking 100% tomato juice with no added salt or sugar is an excellent way to increase your nutrient intake.
How to make your own tomato juice
For those who are creative in the kitchen, homemade tomato juice can be easily prepared with a few nutritious ingredients.
Simply cook sliced fresh tomatoes for 30 minutes over medium heat. When cooled, toss the tomatoes into a high-powered blender or food processor and pulse until the desired consistency is reached.
You can blend the tomato mixture until a drinkable texture is reached or leave it thicker to use as a sauce.
The tomatoes can be combined with other veggies and herbs, such as celery, red peppers, and oregano, to boost the nutrition content and flavor even more.
A helpful tip is to add a bit of olive oil when cooking your tomatoes. Because lycopene is a fat-soluble compound, eating or drinking tomatoes with a bit of fat increases its availability to your body.
Summary: Replacing sweetened drinks such as soda with tomato juice can benefit your health. Make your own tomato juice at home by processing cooked tomatoes in a blender.
Tomato juice is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium.
It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants, such as lycopene, which may reduce inflammation and your risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Be sure to buy 100% tomato juice without added salt or sugar — or make your own at home.