Health Benefits Tomatoes - Nutritional Facts, Uses and Remedies

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 easily grown and widely available. While used as a vegetable they are actually fruits and are more nutritious than apples of oranges.
Tomatoes are easily grown and widely available. While used as a vegetable they are actually fruits and are more nutritious than apples of oranges. | Source

Health Benefits of Tomatoes Compared with Apples and Oranges

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.

Nutritional Facts Data for 100 g of Tomatoes, Apples and Oranges

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%
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
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
 
Electrolytes
 
 
 
 
 
 
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%
Phyto-nutrients
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carotene-alpha
101 mcg
 
 
 
11 mcg
 
Carotene-beta
449 mcg
 
27 mcg
 
71 mcg
 
Crypto-xanthin-beta
 
 
11 mcg
 
 
 
Lutein-zeaxanthin
123 mcg
 
29 mcg
 
129 mcg
 
Lycopene
2573 mcg
 
0 mcg
 
0 mcg
 

Comparison of Nutrients in Tomatoes with Vegetables with Similar Uses

The nutrients in tomatoes are compared with Asparagus, Beets, Carrots, Celeriac, Eggplant, Okra and Onions in the table below. The main points are:

  • Tomatoes have the lowest level of calories, and very low levels of fat and carbohydrate.
  • Dietary fiber is relatively low compared with beets carrot and eggplant.
  • Vitamin C levels are second only to Okra
  • Folate levels are moderate, and much less that Beets
  • Vitamin A and Vitamin E levels are higher than most of the vegetables, but much lower than those in carrots
  • Tomatoes have relatively higher levels of potassium than most of the vegetables

Preparation and Serving Methods

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.

Comparison of Nutrients in Tomatoes with Vegetables that have Similar Uses

Serving 100 g
Tomato
Asparagus
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Eggplant
Okra
Onions
Calories (Cal)
18
20
43
41
42
24
32
40
Protein (g)
0.88
2.2
1.6
0.93
1.5
1
2
1.1
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
Sugar (g)
2.63
1.88
6.76
4.74
1.6
2.34
1.2
4.25
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vitamin C (mg)
13.74
5.63
4.85
5.9
7.95
2.2
21.2
7.5
Thiamin (mg)
0.04
0.14
0.03
0.07
0.05
0.04
0.2
0.05
Riboflavin (mg)
0.02
0.14
0.04
0.06
0.06
0.04
0.06
0.03
Niacin (mg)
0.59
0.98
0.33
0.98
0.7
0.65
1
0.12
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
Folate (mcg)
14.63
51.56
108.82
19.67
7.69
21.95
88
20
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
Minerals
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Calcium (mg)
9.76
23.44
16.18
32.79
43.59
9.76
80
22.5
Iron (mg)
0.27
2.14
0.79
0.3
0.71
0.24
0.8
0.2
Magnesium (mg)
11.38
14.06
23.53
11.48
20.51
14.63
56
10
Phosphorus (mg)
24.39
51.56
39.71
34.43
115.38
24.39
64
30
Potassium (mg)
237.4
201.56
325
319.67
300
229.27
304
145
Sodium (mg)
4.88
1.56
77.94
68.85
100
2.44
8
5
Zinc (mg)
0.17
0.55
0.35
0.25
0.33
0.17
0.6
0.18
Copper (mg)
0.06
0.19
0.08
0.04
0.07
0.08
0.09
0.04
Manganese (mg)
0.11
0.16
0.33
0.14
0.16
0.25
0.99
0.13
Selenium (mcg)
0
2.34
0.74
0.16
0.64
0.24
0.6
0.5
Fatty Acids
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 3 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

Tomotoes are the ideal compromise between fruit and veggies and I eat a lot of them. There is some worry about the poison quotient, but that, like the potato, is usually confined to leaves and roots.

Very good article

Bob


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

As always informative and interesting. We eat and cook with many tomatoes. Now I feel we are really healthy with eating tomatoes. Thanks for sharing this great hub.


janderson99 profile image

janderson99 4 years ago from Australia on Planet Water Author

Tomatoes are a fabulous fruit that can be eaten in so many ways.

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