Table of Contents Hide
- Tomato Nutritional Profile
- How Many Nutrients Tomato Food
- How To Serve Nutritious Food
- Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
- How To Buying This Food
- How To Storing This Food
- How To Preparing This Food
- What Happens When You Cook This Food
- How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
- Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits
- Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
- Tomato Food/Drug Interactions
Tomato Nutritional Profile
• Energy value (calories per serving): Low
• Protein: Moderate
• Fat: Low
• Saturated fat: Low
• Cholesterol: None
• Carbohydrates: High
• Fiber: High
• Sodium: Low
• Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A, vitamin C
• Major mineral contribution: Potassium
How Many Nutrients Tomato Food
• Tomatoes are high in dietary fiber, insoluble cellulose and lignin in the skin and seeds. They have vitamin A, but not as much as you might think because red tomatoes get their color from lycopene, a carotenoid with very little vitamin A activity.
• Tomatoes are high in the B vitamin folate and an excellent source of vitamin C, found primarily in the jellylike substance around the seeds.
• One medium ripe red tomato, 2.5 inches in diameter, has 1.5 g dietary fiber, 1,025 IU vitamin A (44 percent of the RDA for a woman, 35 percent of the RDA for a man), 18 mcg folate (5 percent of the RDA), 15.6 mg vitamin C (21 percent of the RDA for a woman, 17 percent of the RDAfor a man), and 292 mg potassium, slightly more than half the potassium in one 8-ounce cup of orange juice.
Note: The amount of vitamin C in any one tomato depends on the variety and when the tomato is harvested. Those harvested from June through October in the northern hemisphere generally have more vitamin C per tomato than those harvested at other times during the year.
• Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family, Solanacea. Other members of this family are eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and some mushrooms. These plants produce natural neurotoxins (nerve poisons) called glycoalkaloids. The glycoalkaloid in tomatoes is alpha tomatine, found in the green parts of the plant.
• Ripe tomatoes have practically no alphatomatine, and it is estimated that an adult would have to eat 150 small green tomatoes to get a potentially lethal dose. But less than two ounces of tomato leaves is considered deadly for an adult.
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How To Serve Nutritious Food
• Fresh and ripe. With the seeds (for the most vitamin C). Cooked, with a bit of oil (for the most lycopene, see below Medical uses and/or benefits).
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
• Low-fiber diet
How To Buying This Food
Smooth round or oval tomatoes. The tomatoes should feel heavy for their size; their flesh should be firm, not watery. If you plan to use the tomatoes right away, pick ripe ones whose skin is a deep orange red.
• If you plan to store the tomatoes for a few days, pick tomatoes whose skin is still slightly yellow. Choose pear-shaped Italian plum tomatoes for sauce making. They have less water than ordinary tomatoes and more sugar.
Bruised tomatoes or tomatoes with mold around the stem end. The damaged tomatoes may be rotten inside; the moldy ones may be contaminated with mycotoxins, poisons produced by molds.
How To Storing This Food
• Store unripe tomatoes at room temperature until they turn fully orange red. Tomatoes picked before they have ripened on the vine will be at their most nutritious if you let them continue to ripen at a temperature between 60° and 75°F.
• Keep them out of direct sunlight, which can soften the tomato without ripening it and destroy vitamins A and C. At room temperature, yellow to light pink tomatoes should ripen in three to five days.
• Refrigerate ripe tomatoes to inactivate enzymes that continue to soften the fruit by dissolving pectins in its cell walls. Fully ripe tomatoes should be used within two or three days.
How To Preparing This Food
• Remove and discard all leaves and stalks. Wash the tomatoes under cool running water, then slice and serve. Or peel the tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water, then transferring them on a slotted spoon into a bowl of cold water.
• The change in temperature damages a layer of cells just under the skin so that the skin slips off easily. To get rid of the seeds, cut the tomato in half across the middle and squeeze the halves gently, cut side down, over a bowl. The seeds should pop out easily.
What Happens When You Cook This Food
• When a tomato is heated the soluble pectins in its cell walls dissolve and the flesh of the tomato turns mushy. But the seeds and peel, which are stiffened with insoluble cellulose and lignin, stay hard.
• This is useful if you are baking or broiling a tomato (the peel will act as a natural “cup”) but not if you are making a soup or stew. If you add an unpeeled tomato to the dish the peel will split, separate from the tomato flesh, and curl up into hard little balls or strips.
• Vitamin C is sensitive to heat. A cooked tomato has less vitamin C than a fresh one, but it has the same amount of vitamin A because carotenoid pigments are impervious to the heat of normal cooking.
How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
Tomatoes are available all year round. In the summer, when they can be picked close to the market and have less distance to travel, they are picked vine-ripened.
• In the winter, when they have to travel farther, they are picked while the skin is still a bit green so they will not spoil on the way to market. On the vine, in shipping, or in your kitchen, tomatoes produce ethylene, a natural ripening agent that triggers the change from green to red skin.
• In winter, if the tomatoes are still green when they reach the market, they are sprayed with ethylene which turns them red. These tomatoes are called hard-ripened (as opposed to vine-ripened). You cannot soften hard-ripened tomatoes by storing them at room temperature. They should be refrigerated to keep them from rotting.
Since 2000, following several deaths attributed to unpasteurized apple juice contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the FDA has required that all juices sold in the United States be pasteurized to inactivate harmful organisms such as bacteria and mold.
Most canned tomatoes are salted. Unless otherwise labeled, they should be considered high-sodium foods.
The botulinum organism whose toxin causes botulism thrives in an airless, nonacid environment like the inside of a vegetable can. Because tomatoes are an acid food, many people assume that canned tomatoes will not support the growth of the botulinum organism, but there have been reports of canned tomatoes contaminated with botulinum toxins.
• Tomatoes should therefore be treated like any other canned food. Cook them thoroughly before you use them. Throw out any unopened can that is bulging. And discard without tasting any canned tomatoes that look or smell suspicious.
Tomatoes packed in aseptic boxes may taste fresher than canned tomatoes because they are cooked for a shorter time before processing.
Sun-dried tomatoes will keep for several months in the refrigerator. If they are not packed in oil, they have to be “plumped” before you can use them. Plunge them in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain, soak, chop, and use within a day or so. Or cover them with olive oil and store them in the refrigerator.
Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits
Possible protection against some forms of cancer.
Tomatoes contain the red carotenoid (pigment) lycopene, a strong antioxidant that may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. Cooking tomatoes and consuming tomato products with dietary fats such as olive oil makes the lycopene easier for the body to absorb.
• In November 2005, the FDA ruled that tomato and tomato-sauce products (including catsup) may carry labels with health claims regarding their ability to reduce the risk of prostate, gastric, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers, but that these claims must be described as “unlikely,” “highly uncertain,” and “highly unlikely.”
• There is no evidence that pure lycopene, as in supplements, produces the effects of lycopene in tomato products. Pale tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, green tomatoes, and tomatoes ripened after picking have less lycopene than deep-red tomatoes ripened on the wine.
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Lower risk of stroke.
Various nutrition studies have attested to the power of adequate potassium to keep blood pressure within safe levels.
• For example, in the 1990s, data from the long-running Harvard School of Public Health/Health Professionals Follow-Up Study of male doctors showed that a diet rich in high potassium foods such as bananas, oranges, and plantain may reduce the risk of stroke.
• In the study, the men who ate the higher number of potassium-rich foods (an average of nine servings a day) had a risk of stroke 38 percent lower than that of men who consumed fewer than four servings a day.
• In 2008, a similar survey at the Queen’s Medical Center (Honolulu) showed a similar protective effect among men and women using diuretic drugs (medicines that increase urination and thusthe loss of potassium).
As an antiscorbutic.
Fresh tomatoes, which are rich in vitamin C, help protect against scurvy, the vitamin C–deficiency disease.
Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
Lycopene, the red carotenoid pigment in tomatoes, can be stored in the fatty layer under your skin. If you eat excessive amounts of tomatoes (or tomatoes and carrots), the carotenoids may turn your palms, the soles of your feet, and even some of your other skin yellow-orange.
• The color change is harmless and will disappear as soon as you cut back your consumption of these vegetables.
Latex is a milky fluid obtained from the rubber tree and used to make medical and surgical products such as condoms and protective latex gloves, as well as rubber bands, balloons, and toys; elastic used in clothing; pacifiers and baby-bottle nipples; chewing gum; and various adhesives. Some of the proteins in latex are allergenic, known to cause reactions ranging from mild to potentially life threatening.
• Some of the proteins found naturally in latex also occur naturally in foods from plants such as avocados, bananas, chestnuts, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, and food and diet sodas sweetened with aspartame. Persons sensitive to these foods are likely to be sensitive to latex as well.
Note : The National Institute of Health Sciences, in Japan, also lists the following foods as suspect: Almonds, apples, apricots, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, buckwheat, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, cherries, chestnuts, coconut, figs, grapefruit, lettuce, loquat, mangoes, mushrooms, mustard, nectarines, oranges, passion fruit, papaya, peaches, peanuts, peppermint, pineapples, potatoes, soybeans, strawberries, walnuts, and watermelon.
Tomato Food/Drug Interactions
False-positive test for carcenoid tumors.
Carcenoid tumors, which may arise in tissues of the endocrine or gastrointestinal system, secrete serotonin, a natural chemical that makes blood vessels expand or contract. Because serotonin is excreted in urine, these tumors are diagnosed by measuring the levels of serotonin by products in the urine.
• Tomatoes contain large amounts of serotonin; eating them in the three days before a test for an endocrine tumor might produce a false-positive result, suggesting that you have the tumor when in fact you do not. (Other foods high in serotonin are avocados, bananas, eggplant, pineapple, plums, and walnuts.)
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