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What Is the Nutritional Value of a Tomato?

Grape tomatoes are the smallest members of the tomato family.
Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene.
Fat-free salsas can add heat and depth to dishes with very few calories.
Yellow tomatoes.
Cooking tomato, such as in tomato sauce used on a pizza, does not harm its nutritional value.
Like eggplants, tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants.
Tomatoes provide all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.
Tomatoes purchased at local farmer's markets may be fresher, and healthier, than those sold at stores.
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  • Written By: Elizabeth West
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2014
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Tomatoes are acidic fruits which contain vitamins and minerals a healthy body needs. The nutritional value of a tomato is considerable and it is low in calories. Lycopene, an important nutrient and antioxidant, is also found in tomatoes. There are many varieties in different colors and sizes. They may be eaten raw or in soups, pastas, juice, salads, and many other recipes.

These fruits are part of the nightshade family, which includes eggplant and bell peppers. They come in different colors, including yellow, brown, purple, and red, and sizes range from a giant beefsteak tomato to a tiny cherry or grape variety. Producers and home gardeners grow them from seed or from affordable plants found in garden centers. Apartment dwellers who don’t have a yard can cultivate them successfully in a pot.

This healthy fruit is rich in vitamins C, K and A. Vitamin C is water-soluble and must be replaced in the body each day. Tomatoes go well with olive oil, which not only helps integrate fat-soluble vitamins A and K but is one of the most healthy fats. They are a good source of folate, the natural form of vitamin B9, an essential element for spinal cord and brain development. With dietary fiber and important minerals like potassium and iron, tomatoes help keep the body working right.

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The nutritional value of a tomato is not depleted by cooking. Lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, is concentrated and increased when heated. Tomato sauce, pizza sauce, ketchup, and tomato juice have large concentrations of it. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps destroy free radicals, the compounds produced when cells burn oxygen. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of skin cancer, osteoporosis, and prostate cancer.

Like other fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are high in water content. They can be eaten in quantity without adding too many calories. Fresh fruits are a much better snack than a candy bar or pastry. Eating salsa with tortilla or potato chips has all the nutritional value of a tomato and is lower in calories than fatty cheese or French onion dip.

Tomatoes may be eaten raw and sliced, in sandwiches and salads, or cooked or stewed into a versatile sauce. Some people like to scoop out the inside and fill the tomato with egg or tuna salad for a quick lunch. If they are too acidic, a bit of sugar may be added to tomato sauce or even raw sliced tomatoes. Soup is another favorite, and the nutritional value of a tomato makes it a sensible as well as delicious addition to any meal.

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