Tomato, characteristics and healthy properties

Tomato, a food that can be eaten curd or cooked, is one of the most consumed fruits in the world. It is especially recommended for its nutritional contribution recommended for its benefits in our health.

We find an essential fruit to incorporate into our daily diet as millions of people around the world already do.

What is tomato?

The tomato is the fruit of the herbaceous plant that we commonly know as the tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum). This fruit is known all over the planet for being a basic ingredient in our kitchens.

Origin of tomato

The tomato is the fruit of the tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum) and belongs to the Solanaceae family such as potatoes, peppers or aubergines, all of South American origin.

The term tomato comes from the word tomatl,  which is a word from the Nahuatl language , a language spoken by the Aztecs of Central America, mainly Mexico, which means swollen fruit .

Thanks to the exchange of food, after the conquest of the new world by Europe, this fruit began to be part of the diet in Mediterranean countries such as Spain or Italy, among others.

As a curiosity, the first tomatoes that arrived in Europe were not red, but yellow. For this reason in Italy this fruit is known as pomodoro, which means golden or yellow apple.

At first it was used in the kitchen as a decorative ingredient and not mainly as a culinary one. Even botanists spoke of its possible toxicity when ingested, nothing could be further from the truth.

It soon became an indispensable ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine to this day. It was not until the nineteenth century when it began to be cultivated in other countries outside the Mediterranean side.

It is currently one of the most consumed and popular fruits on all continents.

How do you eat the tomato?

Tomato, also known as tomato, is consumed both fresh and cooked in different recipes for salads, sauces, purees, fruit smoothies or transforming the sauce into soup or other broths or stews where we increase the intake of lycopene that I will talk about the properties of the tomato. .

It is an essential ingredient in the diet of different types of cuisines around the world, but specifically it is an essential ingredient in salads, stews and stir-fries of Mediterranean cuisine.

As a food recommendation, it is established to consume fruits and vegetables times a day between cures and cooked. We always recommend consumption of fresh fruit to make the most of all its properties.

In the case of tomato, in addition to being fresh, it is also very beneficial for our health to consume it cooked because the lycopene is absorbed with triple efficiency after the heat has broken the cell membranes and has allowed it to escape.

For this reason, the richest sources of lycopene is tomato sauce, puree or concentrate and better if we use ripe tomatoes.

As a tip, it is advisable not to mix the tomato with vinegar, since this mixture produces gases that with certain pathologies can be annoying.

What is the tomato season?

The natural season for tomatoes is in summer. It is true that we can get tomatoes throughout the year, but the best time to savor and taste the best quality tomatoes is between the months of June to October.

Depending on the climate in our region, the time to harvest tomatoes may vary, but in most Mediterranean areas, between mid-June and mid-October, the tomatoes are already ripe for harvest.

The ideal is to be able to consume them as we collect them so that their nutritional properties are the most optimal.

How is the tomato preserved?

To buy tomato it is advisable to always buy it in season and in local markets that feel have varieties that are grown in our region.

Tomatoes lose their aroma when stored in the cold in refrigerators. If we are going to consume it soon, it is advisable to keep them at room temperature out of the light. In this way we will consume this fruit with all its aroma and flavor.

Tomato types

There is a great variety of tomatoes , some varieties are original, as they became known after the arrival of the American continent and other varieties are relatively new, the result of the crossing of original varieties

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Despite the new varieties that have come out new, in our markets we can mainly find the following:

Raf

It is a variety of tomato that many consider the best quality , but depending on the recipe we want to use, other varieties are better. It is also called black leg for the quality that is more than recognized.

Its name is given by its initials RAF which correspond to the initials Resistant to Fusarium which is a type of pest that can affect the life of these tomato plants.

This type of tomato can be used in countless recipes, both raw or canned. It is irregular in shape with a crunchy texture and a sweet to sour taste.

Branch

It is very easy to recognize if they have not yet been separated, since several tomatoes are grouped on their own branch. It is medium in size with smooth, fine skin and an intense red color. Its sour and sweet taste makes it ideal to eat in salads.

Rose of Barbastro

It has a delicious sweet to citrus flavor and a delicious smell that is highly appreciated by consumers. It has a pink color that lives up to its name. They are usually large and irregular in size with thin and delicate skin. Its most used consumption is in salad recipes or simply with olive oil and salt.

Pear

As its name suggests, it is pear – shaped due to its similarity to these fruits, which are somewhat elongated. It has a red color with an intensity that varies according to its point of maturity. It has a smooth, shiny and uniform skin. Its flavor is sweet and it is used in recipes for sauces or gazpachos and it is one of the most used to make preserves, both whole and minced.

Roma

It is an ideal tomato for frying or for making both salmorejo and gazpacho. It is a tomato of Italian origin that is also known as plum tomato that is also used to make the famous tomato paste or for preserves.

Kumato

It is an example of a cross mix of other types of tomatoes. With a sweet taste and a very dark red almost black color, it is round in shape and is the quintessential tomato to eat in salad , although in gourmet cuisine it is used in recipes for pistos, meals made in the oven, among other dishes.

As a curiosity, it is a very antioxidant food, since it has lycopenes in its skin to a greater extent.

Ox heart

As the name suggests, it looks like a heart. It is usually large, sweet in taste and has few seeds inside and has a lot of pulp. It is a very resistant tomato and is used to consume it in salad.

Cherry

It is very small in size, which is why it is also called cherry tomato because of its similarity to this fruit. It is widely used in salad recipes, garnishes or dish decorations.

Its texture is crunchy with a sweet flavor. Its shape is round and with a thin skin we can find it yellow, green or black, although the intense red color is the most common.

Tomato, fruit or vegetable?

The truth is that there are certain foods that are difficult to classify in our diet. In this case, we find the tomato, which is one of the most complicated foods to classify.

There is always the dispute about how to classify it as a fruit or as a vegetable, but we have to take into account to differentiate its botanical classification and its culinary classification.

It happens to us with many foods that we eat regularly, we do not know how to locate according to which foods, since traditionally we have been taught that certain foods belong to a categorization that is not the true one.

With this dilemma we arrive at the following question, What is the tomato, a fruit or a vegetable?

Tomato is a fruit and a vegetable

The answer is not simple, since we can classify it as a fruit, but also as a vegetable.

According to the RAE, the definition of fruit is the edible fruit of certain cultivated plants, for example, the plum , cherry or cherry, pear or in this case, the tomato that fits perfectly into this definition.

In addition, if it comes from a cultivated plant, it is also a food that, due to its flavor, aroma and nutritional properties beneficial to health, can be eaten raw when it reaches the optimal state of maturity, just like other fruits.

We can also observe that all fruits contain the seeds of the plant and the tomato is no exception.

Botanical and culinary classification

Although there are recipes to include tomato as a dessert, it is not a breath that we usually use in our dessert recipes like other types of fruits that both cooked or raw we usually take in our desserts.

The tomato can be perfectly considered a fruit.

The vegetable is not really a botanical classification but rather a culinary one. With this observation we can see that the tomato behaves like other foods that we consider vegetables or vegetables and that they are those that come from orchards and are consumed raw or cooked.

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With everything explained, we come to the conclusion that the tomato can be both a fruit and a vegetable . Both statements would be correct if we take into account the botanical or culinary classification.

Tomato properties

Tomato is a food with nutritional properties that make this food an essential ingredient in our diet.

This food is composed mostly of water so it has very few calories, approximately 22 kcal per 100 g.

They also have sugars of natural origin (3%) that are responsible for providing the sweet taste.

In addition, this fruit is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, among which vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus and sodium stand out.

Lycopene in tomato

Another component that tomatoes have is lycopene , which is found in high amounts in these foods. Its quantity varies according to the tomato varieties, the pear-type being richer in this carotenoid and the more ripe and red, the more lycopene they have.

Lycopene is a carotenoid, a natural chemical responsible for the red color of fruits and vegetables naturally. This is the case of tomato, but also grapefruit or watermelon, which also have this carotenoid.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps us, among others, to prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Average nutritional composition of raw tomato per 100 grams:

Calories22 kcal
Protein1 g
Fats0,18 g
Carbohydrates3,5 g
Fiber1,4 g
Water94 g
Football11 mg
Iron0,7 mg
Zinc0,20 mg
Sodium7 mg
Potassium250 mg
Match24 mg
Vitamin A0,21 mg
Vitamins B10,07 mg
Vitamin B30,9 mg
C vitamin26,7 mg

Tomato benefits

There are several benefits that tomatoes give us to maintain good health. On the one hand, it is a great contribution of vitamins and minerals, it is a powerful antioxidant thanks, among other components, to lycopene and, on the other hand, it provides a large amount of water to our body.

In addition, we can add the following benefits that it brings to our health, which are, mainly, the following:

For a healthy heart

Studies have shown that regular tomato consumption maintains healthy blood vessels and another study shows that people with high levels of lycopene have a lower risk of heart attacks.

Improves blood pressure

Being a fruit rich in potassium, it helps us regulate blood pressure. Also, having a large amount of water has a diuretic effect.

Ideal for weight loss diets

This food is widely used in weight loss diets thanks to the few calories it provides and because it is rich in fiber and water that gives us a feeling of satiety.

Take care of the prostate

As we have already talked about, this fruit is rich in lycopene that exerts a powerful antioxidant action in our body , protecting us from free radicals, mainly in the cells of the prostate.

Tomato sauce has more lycopene than raw tomato. For this reason, it is true that ketchup is good for the prostate.

Help for eyesight, skin and hair

Thanks to the carotenoids that are transformed into vitamin A in our body as we need it, the tomato helps us to have good health in our eyes and also to have healthy skin and hair.

Improve our natural defenses

Thanks to the vitamin C that it provides us, it helps us to strengthen our defenses in a natural way. Being a powerful antioxidant, it helps us reduce free radicals that, in excess, help us to have certain diseases.

In conclusion, the tomato is one of the foods that we must add to our diet, not only because of its delicious taste and its benefits for our health, but also because we find a very versatile ingredient that we can use in our usual diet and that is safe that we will enjoy.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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