Nutritional Value of Tomatoes

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a tomato

Tomatoes contain vitamins A, C, and K. Tomatoes are also a good source of niacin, chromium, and potassium. Vitamin C protects the body from free radicals which destroy the healthy cells in the body. Niacin helps to lower triglyceride, a fat present in our blood. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, a compound that gives tomatoes their color. Processed tomato products have higher concentrations of lycopene. Studies show that tomato and tomato product consumption is associated with a reduced risk of:

  • Ovarian cancer, especially in premenopausal women
  • Digestive tract cancers (mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, colon, and rectum)
  • Cardiovascular disease

How to Purchase Tomatoes and Tomato Products

Avoid soft or mushy tomatoes with blemishes. Cherry tomatoes are small round tomatoes. Grape tomatoes are small and oblong shaped with a concentrated flavor. Roma tomatoes are an oblong shape, medium size with shiny red skin and firm flesh. When purchasing tomato products, check the expiration dates on the containers. Choose containers free of damage, such as dented cans.

Storing Tomatoes

Tomatoes should not be refrigerated. Tomatoes should be stored above 50 °F to avoid flavor and quality loss. Handle with care to avoid bruising. Tomato products should be stored at room temperature unless the container states otherwise.

Preparing Tomatoes

Tomatoes may be consumed fresh or cooked. To peel, cut a small “x” at base of tomato and dip in boiling water briefly then place tomato in ice water. The skin will wrinkle and you will be able to remove it easily.

How to Eat More Tomatoes Daily

  • Serve tomatoes fresh as a snack
  • Serve tomatoes in omelets
  • Add tomatoes to sandwiches and wraps
  • Make tomato sauce and serve with pasta
  • Drink tomato juice
  • Make salsa
  • Preserve tomatoes when in season

A Point of Caution

Canned tomato products such as tomato sauce, juice, or paste can be a high source of sodium in the diet. Try purchasing low sodium varieties of these products.

Reference: University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture

More tomato nutrition information can be found at the ncstepstohealth website, including the following healthy serving ideas, home grown and nutrition facts, tips and activities.

NC Harvest of the Month: Steps to Health -Tomatoes