The Tomato is a popular and nutritious fruit that is commonly used as a vegetable in salads and a variety of cooked dishes.
Tomatoes are also very popular when dried. Canned tomatoes and tomato paste are also widely used in pasta sauce recipes.
The humble tomato originated in South America, and was spread all around the world after the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
It is now cultivated in many varieties and forms widely through the world and fresh tomatoes are generally available right throughout the year.
Tomatoes have a wide range of health benefits with low calories, no fat, and no cholesterol, a range of vitamins and minerals and phyto-nutrients such as lycopene with outstanding antioxidant properties.
Recent research has shown that increasing the amount of lycopene in the blood, by consuming tomatoes and other red fruits, may play a crucial role in preventing strokes and other health benefits. Tomatoes are one of the richest sources of lycopene.
Intriguingly tomatoes have more health-promoting benefits than apples and oranges! Perhaps more apples should be eaten as fruits!
This article provides a review of the health benefits of tomatoes and includes nutrition charts, summaries of the uses for tomatoes and the many remedies provided by eating tomatoes.
Tomatoes are one of the lowest calorie fruits (vegetables) containing just 18 calories per 100 g. This is less than half the calories in 100 g of apple or orange (see the table). They have very low amounts of fat and have zero cholesterol levels.
Tomatoes are also relatively rich in Vitamin A (4 times the level on oranges and 10 times the level in apples). Tomatoes are also rich in many of the other vitamins such as Vitamin K and E and the B group Vitamins.
Tomatoes have twice the level of Vitamin C found in apples, but only 25% of that found in Oranges.
Tomatoes are excellent sources of antioxidants and minerals. Because of their low calories and nutrients tomatoes are often recommended by nutritionists and dieticians for people trying to lose weight, with a tomato eaten as a snack between meals.
Research conducted in Finland has shown that a diet rich in tomatoes may help to reduce the risk of having a stroke.
Lycopene acts as an antioxidant, helps reduce inflammation and also helps prevent blood clotting.
A study of 1,031 men, monitored over a period of 12 years showed that the group with the most lycopene in their blood had the lowest risk of having a stroke. The study found 25 strokes in the 258 men in the group with low lycopene and just 11 strokes out of the 259 men in the group with high lycopene.
This was equivalent to more than a 50% reduction in risk of strokes. This study added weight to the argument that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is associated with a lower risk of stroke.
Fresh tomatoes are also very rich in the electrolytes potassium, but with low sodium levels, with 100 g containing 237 mg of potassium and just 5 mg of sodium.
It is the ratio of potassium to sodium which is important in helping to control blood pressure and heart rate triggered by high sodium levels in the diet.
Tomatoes contain good sources of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, folates and riboflavin. They are also a good source of essential minerals like calcium, iron, manganese and other trace elements.
|Nutrients||Nutrients in 100 g Tomato||Tomato % of daily allowance||Nutrients in 100 g Apple||Apple % of daily allowance||Nutrients in 100 g Orange||Orange % of daily allowance|
|Energy||18 Cal||1%||50 Cal||3%||47 Cal||3%|
|Carbohydrates||3.9 g||3%||13.8 g||11%||11.8 g||9%|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0%||0 mg||0%||0 mg|
|Dietary Fiber||1.2 g||3%||2.4 g||6%||2.4 g||6%|
|Protein||0.9 g||2%||0.26 g||1%||0.94 g||2%|
|Total Fat||0.2 g||1%||0.2 g||1%||0.12 g||1%|
|Folates||15 mcg||4%||3 mcg||1%||30 mcg||8%|
|Niacin||0.6 mg||4%||0.09 mg||1%||0.282 mg||2%|
|Pyridoxine||0.08 mg||6%||0.04 mg||3%||0.06 mg||5%|
|Thiamin||0.04 mg||3%||0.02 mg||1%||0.10 mg||8%|
|Vitamin A||833 IU||28%||54 IU||2%||225 IU||8%|
|Vitamin C||13 mg||21%||4.6 mg||8%||53.2 mg||90%|
|Vitamin E||0.54 mg||4%||0.18 mg||1%||0.18 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||7.9 mcg||6%||2.2 mcg||2%||0 mcg|
|Calcium||10 mg||1%||6 mg||1%||40 mg||4%|
|Iron||0.3 mg||4%||0.12 mg||1%||0.10 mg||1%|
|Magnesium||11 mg||3%||5 mg||1%||0.02 mg||1%|
|Manganese||0.15 mg||6%||0%||10 mg||3%|
|Phosphorus||24 mg||3%||11 mg||2%|
|Potassium||237 mg||5%||107 mg||2%||169 mg||4%|
|Sodium||5 mg||2%||1 mg||0%||0 mg|
|Zinc||0.17 mg||2%||0.04 mg||0.08 mg||1%|
|Carotene-alpha||101 mcg||11 mcg|
|Carotene-beta||449 mcg||27 mcg||71 mcg|
|Lutein-zeaxanthin||123 mcg||29 mcg||129 mcg|
|Lycopene||2573 mcg||0 mcg||0 mcg|
The nutrients in tomatoes are compared with Asparagus, Beets, Carrots, Celeriac, Eggplant, Okra and Onions in the table below. The main points are:
Pests are common in tomatoes, especially ripe organic ones. The modern hybrid varieties, bred for quick growth are usually tainted with insecticide sprays as they have little natural resistance. Therefore it is a good idea to wash the tomatoes thoroughly in the cold running water and to check for signs of pests.
To prepare tomatoes, discard stem and then cut into halves, slices and cubes. Some people prefer to peel the tomatoes and to remove the seeds.
Tomatoes are widely used in a wide variety of dishes especially for Italian, Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, Greek and East European cuisine. It begs the question - what did all these people eat before tomatoes were introduced from South America, especially the Italians.
|Serving 100 g||Tomato||Asparagus||Beets||Carrots||Celeriac||Eggplant||Okra||Onions|
|Total Fat (g)||0.2||0.13||0.18||0.25||0.29||0.2||0.1||0.1|
|Total Carbohydrates (g)||3.89||3.88||9.56||9.57||9.21||5.71||7.04||9.35|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||1.22||2.03||2.79||2.79||1.79||3.41||3.2||1.75|
|Vitamin C (mg)||13.74||5.63||4.85||5.9||7.95||2.2||21.2||7.5|
|Pantothenic Acid (mg)||0.09||0.27||0.15||0.27||0.35||0.28||0.24||0.12|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.08||0.09||0.07||0.14||0.17||0.08||0.21||0.12|
|Vitamin B12 (mcg)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Vitamin A (IU)||833||756||32||16707||0||27||376||3|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.54||1.13||0.04||0.66||0.36||0.29||0.36||0.03|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||7.89||41.56||0.15||13.28||41.03||3.41||53||0.5|
|Saturated Fat (g)||0.03||0.04||0.03||0.04||0.08||0.03||0.03||0.04|
|.Monounsat. Fat (g)||0.03||0||0.03||0.01||0.06||0.02||0.02||0.01|
|Polyunsat. Fat (g)||0.08||0.05||0.06||0.12||0.15||0.08||0.03||0.02|