Joining team spinach, it now looks as though green tomatoes could help grow muscle too, according to new research.

A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry examined a natural compound in green tomatoes called tomatidine. They found that mice fed tomatidine not only grew larger muscles and increased strength, but that the compound also displayed possible protection against muscle atrophy.

While the researchers state it’s too soon to say how many green tomatoes a person would have to eat to in order to get similar results to those of the mice in the study, this is a step in the right direction. The study methods were the same ones used to previously identify ursolic acid, a compound from apple peels, which was found to promote muscle growth.  “We are now very interested in the possibility that several food-based natural compounds such as tomatidine and ursolic acid might someday be combined into science-based supplements, or even simply incorporated into everyday foods to make them healthier,” said one researcher.

Green is good, and here’s why. One large green tomato:

  • Packs in more than half of your daily vitamin C and contains 2 g each of protein and fiber
  • Provides 10% of your daily requirement for the B vitamins thiamin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid, and just under 10% of the riboflavin and niacin you need
  • Dishes out nearly 20% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin K
  • Contains 24 mg of calcium.

BONUS:  Spinach is being researched for its steroid-like ability to build muscles. Lab tissue culture and animal studies showed that a plant steroid extracted from spinach increased muscle growth by 20%, and also enhanced rats’ front limb strength by 10%.

Published November 1, 2014