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Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in North America and are delicious raw, grilled, stewed and added to many dishes. They generally fall into three categories, slicing round tomatoes, plum tomatoes, and small cherry tomatoes. Variety selection should be suited to how you will use them. Slicing tomatoes are large round varieties, which hold more juice and seeds. They are perfect for eating raw. Plum tomatoes are meaty, eggplant-shaped, and may be red or yellow. They are excellent for sauce making, canning, and pizzas. Small cherry-type tomatoes are generally served whole, although they can be cut in half and sautéed in any dish. They contain a great deal of seed and juice.

Key Ingredients of Tomatoes

Per Serving: 1 raw tomato, 123g
Per Serving: 1 medium tomato, 123g

Why Eat Tomatoes?

Tomatoes, like all fruits and vegetables are low in calories, high in complex carbohydrates, contain no cholesterol and almost no fat. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Tomatoes are a source of potassium, folate, vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, thiamin, and vitamin K. They also contain significant amounts of many antioxidants including the carotenoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Although lycopene is available in all ripe tomatoes, cooking the tomatoes increases the amount of lycopene available to the body. Lycopene is fat soluble and is enhanced by cooking in a little oil. Lycopene is also present in the skin of the tomato so leave the skins on during cooking.

Antioxidants

Tomatoes supply a significant source of antioxidants to the body. Antioxidants are nutrients that play an important role in health maintenance. They neutralize harmful chemicals called "free-radicals" that cause cell damage in the body. Antioxidants have been strongly linked to the protection from numerous diseases from heart disease to cancer, eye disease and regulation of the immune system.

Tomatoes have added antioxidant ability because of the carotenoids Beta-carotene, Lycopene, Lutein & Zeaxanthin which convert to vitamin A for future use in the body.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a large class of natural plant pigments responsible for the red colour of tomatoes. They exhibit strong antioxidant properties and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and some types of cancer.

About 40% of the carotenoids we eat are converted to vitamin A; the rest function as antioxidants

Lycopene is also a carotenoid that promotes heart health by preventing LDL "bad" cholesterol oxidation and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin A

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A, one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Excess amounts are stored in the liver and fatty tissue. It plays a significant role in fending off infections and illness. The body needs vitamin A for growth and repair. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidation damage. Vitamin A is essential for normal vision and is necessary for normal cell growth and division, the development of bones and teeth, and for the health of skin, mucous membranes and the tissue that lines the intestines, airways and other organs.

Vitamin C

Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary to make and maintain collagen, the connective tissue that holds the body and organs in place. Vitamin C promotes the healing of wounds, helps build teeth and bones, helps the body absorb iron, and many other vital functions. It is associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Potassium

Tomatoes are a source of potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that helps to regulate the body's balance of fluid. It is essential for many metabolic processes and is instrumental in the transmission of nerve impulses, proper muscle function, and maintaining normal blood pressure.

Folate

Tomatoes are a source of folate, a water-soluble B group vitamin. The body doesn't keep excess amounts of the water-soluble vitamins in reserve, so they must be replenished daily. Folate plays a crucial role in every body function that requires cell division. This helps explain the importance in fetal development. Prior and during pregnancy, folate helps prevent neurological defects, such as spina bifida, in the fetus. All women of childbearing age need to have a regular source of folate.

The many tasks of folate include making blood cells, building muscles, healing wound and producing chemicals that keep the brain and nervous system functioning properly. Folate is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. High folate content is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin K

Tomatoes are an good source of vitamin K , which ends up in the liver and forms the ingredients for blood clotting. Blood coagulation is not the only important function of Vitamin K, it is also necessary for the formation of new bone material and healthy bone structure.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral for the human body. Tomatoes are a source of magnesium, needed for the formation of protein and bone, making new cells, activating B vitamins and blood clotting.

Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral that plays an important role in the formation of bone and connective tissue in the body and plays a role in healing wounds. Tomatoes are a source of manganese.

Vitamin B6

Tomatoes are a source of Vitamin B6, needed in the body to release energy in forms that the cells can use. It is instrumental in the functioning of the nervous and immune systems and the manufacture of red blood cells.

Thiamin

Tomatoes are a source of thiamin, a water-soluble B vitamin, that the body requires to break down carbohydrates, fat and protein. It is also required for the proper functioning of the nerve cells.

Did You Know?

We use the tomato as a vegetable but it is botanically a fruit!