Info message
Successful operation message
Warning message
Error message


  • icon

    tomatoes

Food Percentage of DRI per 100 grams
vitamin C
18  
biotin
13  
molybdenum
11  
vitamin K
9  
potassium
7  
copper
7  
manganese
6  
fiber
5  
vitamin A
4  
vitamin B6
4  
folate
4  
vitamin B3
4  
phosphorus
3  
vitamin B1
3  
vitamin E
3  
magnesium
3  
chromium
2  
iron
2  
zinc
2  
choline
2  
pantothenic acid
2  
protein
2  

Tomatoes come in thousands of varieties, shapes, sizes and colors. They can be red, burgundy, pink, yellow, orange, green, purple, brown, black, striped or streaked. Beefsteak tomaotes are among the largest. The smallest varieties are called Tomberry tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes refers to tomatoes grown from seeds that have been selected from season to season from the plants that have produced the best tomatoes. They are pollinated in the open by bees, insects, birds and wind without crossbreeding. Conventional tomatoes, or hybrids, on the other hand have been crossbred to display particular characteristics. No matter the size, color or variety of tomato, the leaves of the plant are inedible. In botanical terms, tomato is classified as a fruit, not a vegetable.  

Even though the tomato need sunlight to grow, it belongs to the "nightshade" family of fruits and vegetables that can blossom during the night. Some studies indicate that if the moonlight is bright it can affect the ripening and increase the level of vitamin C and other healing properties of the tomato.  

Tomatoes contain impressive amounts of phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, quercetin many others. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, E, K, B6 and dietary fiber. Even when conventionally grown, tomatoes are a good source of minerals including potassium, manganese, folate, niacin, phosphorus, chromium, zinc and iron.  

VOLUME: moderate 

FLAVOR PAIRINGS 

Almonds, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, basil, bay leaf, beans, beets, bell peppers, black pepper, butter, capers, caraway seeds, cauliflower, cayenne, celery, chard, chervil, chickpeas, chiles, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut cream, coconut feta, coriander, corn, couscous, cucumber, cumin, dill, enchiladas, fennel, garlic, ginger, grains, greens, leeks, legumes, lemon, lentils, lettuce, limes, marjoram, mint, mushrooms, nut cheeze, nut cream, nut m!lk, nutmeg, nutritional yeast, oil, olives, onions, oranges, oregano, paprika, parsley, parsnips, pasta, pepper, polenta, potatoes, pumpkin, quinoa, rice, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt.  

SELECTING 

Tomatoes of any colors, shapes and varieties all come with impressive nutritional benefits.  

 Tomatoes are included in the so-called “dirty dozen’’, meaning they rank among the top fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residue has been most frequently found. Therefore, it makes extra sense to buy organic when it comes to tomatoes. 

If you can’t afford or find organic tomatoes, a vinegar bath can potentially help remove some of the pesticides from the skin. Mix 1 part vinegar with 9 parts water and soak your tomatoes for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly. 

When in season, many different varieties of local heirloom tomatoes can be found at farmers' markets. Tasty tomatoes will have a noticeable fragrance. 

HOW TO USE 

Bake, confit, dehydrate, fry, grill, juice, puree, raw, roast, sautee, stuff, sun-dry. 

Whenever possible, keep the skin of the tomato on. Much of the flavonoids, antioxidants and phytonutrients are concentrated in the skin. Making use of the skin therefore, will result in a more nutrient-dense tomato dish. 

Cooking or dehydrating tomatoes eliminates some of the acid and bitter notes and concentrates their flavor and sweetness. Adding a bit of sweetener to tomato sauce or tomato dishes can further enrich the flavor. It could mean adding honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar to elevate the flavor, but even just grated carrot, beetroot or caramelized onions can make a difference.  

Using aluminum cookware is never a good idea, but when it comes to cooking tomatoes and other acid-containing ingredients the material of your pot is extra important. When acid from the tomatoes comes into contact with aluminum it can result in leaching unwanted heavy metals into the food, causing contamination both in terms of taste and health. 

STORING 

Ideally tomatoes should be stored in room temperature, but avoid direct sunlight. Their shelf-life varies depending on their level of ripeness. If you wish to speed up ripening, place tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple or banana. The ethylene gas emitted from the fruit will cause the tomatoes to ripen more quickly. 

Refrigerating tomatoes will diminish much of their flavor, making the flesh mealy and halt the ripening process. If you want to slow the ripening process to preserve the tomatoes longer, then refrigerating can be helpful, just remove the tomatoes from the fridge a couple of hours before serving to allow them to come to room temperature and revive some of the smell and taste. 

Whole or chopped tomatoes also freeze well. Place in a plastic bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing and freezing. The flavor and color will be well preserved by freezing, although the texture will be softer. Frozen and thawed tomatoes will be good for using in sauces, stews, casseroles and other dishes where the tomatoes are cooked soft.  

 

SUBSTITUTE 

Red bell peppers can be a way to substitute fresh tomatoes.  

In cooked dishes tomato puree, canned tomatoes or blended sun-dried tomatoes work well as substitutes.  

HEALTH BENEFITS 

 Consuming tomatoes can result in a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and obesity. Studies also show Antioxidants in tomatoes can support the function of the liver, kidneys and gallbladder. Lycopene and other phytonutrients help these organs detox and cleanse the blood.    

Another area where tomatoes are greatly beneficial is when it comes to cardiovascular health. The Carotenoids support the heart to circulate the blood and distribute oxygen throughout the body. Lycopene helps reduce the lipids (fats) in the bloodstream, preventing atherosclerosis and thereby also protecting against heart attack and stroke. Tomato phytonutrients also decrease LDL cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels. 

The amazing antioxidants of tomatoes have also proven to support bone health. Strong bones might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to antioxidants. But studies have found lycopene and other antioxidants in tomatoes to have beneficial effects in terms of strengthening of bone tissue.   

There is also fairly well documented evidence showing that tomatoes help protect against cancer, especially to the prostate and breasts. Not very surprising considering that cancer starts out with oxidative stress, and is counteracted by antioxidants.  

NIGHTSHADES 

Tomatoes are part of the Nightshade (Solanaceae) family, together with aubergines, bell peppers, chilis, tomatillos, potatoes and goji berries and many more.  There are over 2000 species in this family, called Nightshade because they grow in shade and flower at night. Nightshades contain an alkaloid called solanine which is by some accounts said to cause inflammation. However, there are no case-controlled scientific studies that can confirm that there is any reason to avoid plants with Solanine. These vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense and offer important health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, which prevents cancer cells from multiplying and protect against many diseases. If nightshades trigger a negative reaction it is more likely to be a symptom of an underlying imbalance or intolerance in certain individuals, rather than a reason to dismiss these vegetables altogether.  

LECTINS 

Lectins are proteins found naturally in all plants, especially concentrated in legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs, fruits, and vegetables that are botanically classified as fruits, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergines, zucchinis and potatoes.  

A diet fad that has emerged recently is called the “lectin-free movement”, spearheaded by Dr. Steven Gundry, author of The Plant Paradox. Gundry declares that “plants don’t like us and don’t want to be eaten” and states that lectins are their way to “defend themselves against humans”. According to his theory, lectins inhibit nutrient absorption in the intestines which can lead to inflammation in the stomach, and in turn cause leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune disorders, heart disease and obesity. Gundry declares to have reversed disease in over 1,200 of his patients with a lectin-free diet. And many people swear by this fad, professing that avoiding lectins has helped them recover from illness and lose weight. However, these claims are not supported by evidence. Dr. Gundry’s declarations of reversing disease have not been published in any medical literature, nor have there been any human studies done on the lectin-free diet.  

There are, on the other hand, overwhelming scientific research that proves lectin-containing plants are excellent sources of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes that make up the foundation of a healthy diet. Countless studies show that people who eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes live longer and healthier lives.  If we look at the “blue zones” around the world where life expectancy and longevity is outstanding, we find the one thing they all have in common is a diet rich in lectin-containing fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Some examples include the Okinawans of Japan, the Sardinians of Italy, the Ikarians of Greece, and the Nicoyans of Costa Rica.  

Many prominent dieticians and doctors of varying backgrounds have found fault the lectin myth, including Dr. Joel Kahn, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Garth Davis and Dr. John McDougall. Dr/ T. Colin Campbell, professor at Cornell University, author of over 300 research papers, and The China Study (2005), is one of the critics that have debunked the lectin myth. In one of his articles, Dr. Campbell criticizes the alarming number of misrepresented references and citations in The Plant Paradox, and points out that they do not offer support for the statements made by Dr. Gundry. Campbell also sheds light on a large number of inaccuracies and wild claims in the book that lack referencing altogether. According to Campbell “It is extremely naïve to assume that just one or a few lectins among this complex class reflect the activities of the entire class.” 

HISTORY 

The tomato is one of the most popular and appreciated fruits (known as a vegetables) in existence today, affectionately nicknamed ‘pomme d’amour’ by the French, meaning ‘love apple’. However, earning such fondness has been a journey filled with obstacles and setbacks for the humble fruit.   

Today we associate tomatoes with Mediterranean cuisine, however the history of the fruit is traced back to its predecessor, the ‘xitomatl,’ cultivated by the Aztecs in South and Central America around 700 AD. Theis tomato variety was small and yellow, similar to today’s yellow cherry tomatoes.  Early Aztec writings have revealed a selection of recipes using this small tomato, in fact some recipes have even shown traits in common with the salsa we know today, containing xitomatl, peppers and seasonings.   

 In the 1500's, Spanish explorers returning from their expeditions brought tomato seeds back to Europe where they spread further on throughout the colonial network. You might think that the tomato became instantly adopted and had a huge impact on European cuisine as soon as it was introduced. But that is not the case. When tomato slices were served on pewter tableware, the acidity would cause lead poisoning among the diners who fell ill and mistakenly blamed tomato. It therefore gained the nickname “poison apple” and for a long time was seen as unfit for consumption.  

In the 1800’s an American botanist by the name Alexander Livingston dedicated much of his life to selective breeding of the tomato, resulting in the fruit as we know it today.  It quickly became accepted as an edible fruit although some fear and skepticism remained.   

Today 180 million tons of tomatoes are produced worldwide. The largest producer is China, followed by India, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and Iran.  

REFERENCES 

T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas Campbell, MD. ‘The Plant Paradox’ by Steven Gundry MD– A Commentary. Published online August 23, 2017 — Updated January 3rd, 2019 

Dr. Steven R Gundry, MD. The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. Harper Wave. 2017  

Bai Y and Lindhout P. Domestication and Breeding of Tomatoes: What have We Gained and What Can We Gain in the Future? Ann Bot. 2007 October; 100(5): 1085-1094. Published online 2007 August 23. 2007. 

Dogukan A, Tuzcu M, Agca CA et al. A tomato lycopene complex protects the kidney from cisplatin-induced injury via affecting oxidative stress as well as Bax, Bcl-2, and HSPs expression. Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(3):427-34. 2011. 

Etminan M, Takkouche B, and Caamano-Isorna F. The role of tomato products and lycopene in the prevention of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Mar;13(3):340-5. 2004. 2004.  

Mackinnon ES, Rao AV, and Rao LG. Dietary restriction of lycopene for a period of one month resulted in significantly increased biomarkers of oxidative stress and bone resorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Feb;15(2):133-8. 2011. 

Reboul E, Borel P, Mikail C et al. Enrichment of Tomato Paste with 6% Tomato Peel Increases Lycopene and {beta}-Carotene Bioavailability in Men. J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):790-4 2005. 2005.