Tomatoes for Health, Nutrition and Flavor

Vine-ripened tomatoes
Vine-ripened tomatoes | Source

Tomato: A Versatile Vegetable...er...Fruit

Although I would never classify myself a tomato addict, I am a tomato lover. Just looking at the deep red globes can make my mouth water. I'm not the only one who enjoys this garden vegetable. It is the single most popular garden veggie in the United States.

At least it's the most popular garden plant now; it wasn't always so. During the infancy of America, the tomato was called the love apple, but was considered poisonous. As it turned out, the juices of the tomato interacted with the pewter plate-ware of the day and did create a noxious substance. You should be safe if you avoid pewter dinnerware or utensils.

Tomatoes range in size from that of a grape all the way up to single fruits that weight a pound or more. All tomatoes are not red; there are yellow, orange, pink, white, black and green varieties also.

You can eat tomatoes raw, sliced, quartered, in salads, in jams and jellies, in a variety of sauces, soups and salsas. Eat them right out of the garden, chilled or cooked. The uses for tomatoes are as endless as your imagination.

For more on whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable, check out this hub by BlissfulWriter.

Tomato varieties
Tomato varieties | Source

1 Medium-Sized Ripe Raw Red Tomato

Calories
22
Carbohydrates
4.8 gm
Protein
1.0 gm
Fiber
1.5 gm
Sodium
6 mg
Potassium
292 mg
Calcium
12 mg
Vitamin C
17 mg
Vitamin A
1025 IU
Lycopene
3165 mcg
Lipids
Negligible
Nutritional Value of Tomatoes

1 Cup Tomato Sauce, Canned

 
 
Calories
59
Carbohydrates
13 gm
Protein
3 gm
Fiber
3.7 gm
Sodium
1284 mg
Potassium
811 mg
Calcium
32 mg
Vitamin C
17 mg
Vitamin A
54 mcg_RAE
Lycopene
34249 mcg
Lipids
Negligible

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green Tomato Quesadilla

Garden Fresh Homemade Tomato Soup

The Health Benefits of the Tomato

As you can see from the nutritional data provided by the National Nutrition Database, the tomato has a lot of things going for it. Low in calories, no fat, and a good source of potassium, vitamins A and C and lycopene--and fiber for good measure.

The adult recommended daily allowance (RDA) of potassium for both men and women is 4.7 gm. The tomato as a natural source of potassium ranks close to orange juice and molasses. A six ounce glass of tomato juice provides as much potassium as a banana or spinach. An adequate amount of potassium daily is associated with decreased risk of stroke, hypertension and osteoporosis.

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, has important antioxidant effects in the body, warding off free radicals. This vitamin is important to the formation of collagen and the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. Vitamin C aids the body in its absorption of iron. This vitamin also plays an important role in the health of the immune system.

RDA of vitamin C for adults is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. A tomato pales in comparison to the amount of vitamin C found in orange and grapefruits and their juices, but it is still considered to be a good natural source of the vitamin.

Vitamin A is important to the prevention of night blindness. This nutrient helps the immune system to prevent infection by maintaining the health of the mucosal linings of the nose, digestive system and bladder.

Adult men are recommended to consume 3,000 IU per day and adult women 2,333 IU daily. While the tomato contributes to that daily total, more concentrated natural sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil--and more realistically for most, sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin, butternut squash and carrots.

Lycopene is thought to be a powerful antioxidant. It is a carotenoid, a fat-soluble red pigment found in tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Cooked tomato products provide higher levels of lycopene than do raw tomatoes. This is because the cooking process breaks down cell walls and makes more of the nutrient available.

Although lycopene has been associated with reduced incidence of macular degeneration, cancer and heart disease, most of the studies involving the nutrient have involved tomato products. Because of this scientists cannot conclude whether it is the lycopene alone that is responsible for the health benefits.

Conclusion: If you eat tomatoes and tomato products you won't have to be concerned whether it is the lycopene or other nutrients that are providing the health benefits, because they'll all be in the same "package."

How to Make Oven-Dried Tomatoes

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Comments 24 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I am a huge fan of tomatoes especially in the summer. At one time I can remember I would eat a toasted tomato sandwich every day for weeks on end :) Interesting to read that they were once considered poisonous. Very interesting read.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Just Ask Susan, thanks for stopping by. Always great to meet another tomato fancier.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Thank you for all this excellent information. I had no idea tomatoes were so beneficial.

up/useful


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Glad you found it helpful, Fay. It is nice that turns out something so god to eat is also good for you.


Memories1932 5 years ago

Good article, very informative. Organic tomatoes are one of my favorite vegetables.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Thanks, Memories1932. I'm glad to know I am not alone in my fondness for tomatoes.


Pamela Maunsell 5 years ago

Thanks for a very informative article. I got a dehydrator a while back as a present and tomaotoes are going to be the first thing I try.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Pamela, good luck with the dehydrator. I see lots of healthy eating in your future.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Lots of information about a tasty fruit, or veggie ... always seems weird to call it a fruit lol. Anyways, SHARING your healthy tidbits with the rest here.

Voted up and interesting.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Brett, I'm with you; I think of a fruit as tasting sweet. Tomatoes seem so much more like a vegetable. But either way, they taste good and they are a nice part of a balanced, healthy diet.

Thanks for SHARING.


Justsilvie 4 years ago

Another really interesting fact packed hub. Have developed a love affair with tomatoes and about to try my hand at growing some.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Justsilvie, for me, the best part of summer is homegrown tomatoes.

I hope you have good success with growing tomatoes; you are sure to enjoy the bounty.


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece

We eat loads of tomatoes, especially in the summer. I love the cherry tomatoes, I can eat them like sweets, so it's good to see just how good for us they are!!

I'd love to try the more exciting varieties of tomatoes, but have not seen them here.

Voted up and shared.


susanm23b 4 years ago

Great hub on tomatoes! Tomato sandwiches--YUM! It's nice when something so healthy also tastes good--and is so versatile. Very informative! Voted up!


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Debbie Roberts, cherry tomatoes are indeed a treat. I'm so relieved that tomatoes can be part of a healthy eating plan.

You might try shopping for tomatoes online to have access to some different tomato varieties. I wish you the best of success.

And, thanks for SHARING.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Susanm23b, I wasn't sure there were many people who enjoyed tomato sandwiches as I do. Glad to know I am not alone.

Tomatoes are so good whether fresh or cooked -- and healthy either way. There's almost no way to lose with tomatoes -- unless all you can find are the hot house grown.

I appreciate your read and your comment.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Tomato may be termed a fruit or vegetable as per choice but is a very healthy choice cooked or not. I like to have it raw in salads. It has external applications benefitting the skin.

Thanks for sharing this healthy information. Voted up & interesting.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I like the big meaty steak tomatoes, which we like to cut into discs, cover with garlic and grill. Quite yummy. Voting this Up and Useful.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Rajan Jolly and Alocsin, appreciate your reads and comments.

Needless to say, I am in my glory with homegrown tomatoes abundant right now. I'm pretty sure I've eaten a bushel of them myself so far.

Thank you for votes and sharing.


healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Useful article on the health benefits of the tomato. I wasn't aware that cooking it provided a higher concentration of lycopene. So many vegetables loose their nutrients when cooked. I love tomatoes fresh from the garden. The taste is so much better and doesn't even resemble the tomatoes from the store. Fortunately a friend has a garden. One day I'll have my own:) Voted up and shared.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Healthylife2, it is hard to beat the flavor of a homegrown tomato. I don't bother to buy tomatoes from the store in the winter; the taste (really not much of one) and the texture leave much to be desired.

I don't know if you've read RajanJolly2's hub on the nutritional value of watermelon, but I learned there that at least the red/pink watermelons have even more lycopene than tomatoes.

Appreciate you stopping by, voting and Sharing.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

A very nice and informative hub! I canned tomatoes this year and have been interesting in sun dried tomatoes next year. I'll be book marking this one so I can come back and watch the video again! Voted up and shared!


Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Great hub and love tomatoes. Lots of good nutrients contained in tomatoes especially for men. They are easily grown in pots. So many varieties and even the smaller grape or tommy toes make a great addition to those pots we have sitting around our home.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Kris Heeter, thanks for stopping by. It'll sure be nice to have those canned tomatoes throughout the winter and spring, won't it? Let me know how sun drying these delectable fruits goes for you.

Fiddleman, are you able to grow tomatoes in the winter in your area? I've never had much success with trying to grow them indoors. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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