6 (1 reviews) Rate this page

Health Advisor

14 July 2015

An Introduction to Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a member of the Solanaceae family, along with aubergines and potatoes. Tomato plants grow up to 3 metres in height, with the average tomato fruit weighing approximately 100g. The part that we eat is the edible ovary of the plant, and both the leaves and the stem are inedible.

Tomatoes are now grown throughout the world, where approximately 4.8 million hectares of land has been dedicated to tomato production, with the Netherlands being the highest producer.

Varieties of Tomatoes

Around 7500 varieties of tomatoes exist.

These can roughly be distinguished in two main ways: determinate vs. indeterminate, and heirloom vs. hybrid.

Determinate and indeterminate tomatoes are distinguished by where the blossom grows. In determinate tomatoes, the blossoms grow from the end of the shoots which means that the shoots stop growing and once they have produced fruit they decline. In contrast, indeterminate tomatoes produce their fruit along the vine, which mean they can continue to grow until stopped by an external factor such as cold weather.

Heirloom tomatoes are generally considered to be of purer breed. They were developed using the method of only growing from tomatoes with the most desirable traits, whilst discarding the plants deemed to be lower in quality. Hybrid tomatoes are bred using the more up-to-date method of cross-pollinating different varieties.

Nutritional information

Tomatoes are recognised to be extremely nutritious, and Alfred Vogel believed that ‘tomatoes that have fully ripened on the plant are wholesome and contain at least five different vitamins which are essential for the human body.’ In particular, they have a high vitamin C content. Additionally, tomatoes are very low in calories and fat, and contain no cholesterol.

100g serving:
18 kcal, 0.9g protein, 0.2g fat, 3.9g carbohydrate, 1.2g fibre

Health benefits

Many health benefits have been attributed to tomatoes, and many of these can be linked with the high anti-oxidants, vitamin and mineral composition of the fruit. High in vitamin C, tomatoes can help to boost the immune system, giving your body extra protection against colds and other viruses.

Tomatoes are also thought to promote good eye health. They are high in vitamin A, which is known to protect the retina and cornea. As well as this, tomatoes contain a flavanoid called zea-xanthin, which helps the eye to filter harmful UV rays.

Phytonutrients in tomatoes have been found to be linked with heart health.  They have been found to lower levels of bad cholesterol, as well as preventing high blood pressure, or lowering high blood pressure. Additionally, tomatoes have been found to reduce inflammation, such as in the arteries, which reduce risk of heart disease.

High in fibre, tomatoes are good for digestive health. They reduce symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation by adding bulk to the stool and regulating bowel movements. Tomatoes have also been found to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes, improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Tomato recipes

Avocado, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich
Cheesy Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice & Mushrooms
Tomato & Pepper Salsa
Vegetarian Tomato Stew

Conquer that Quinoa!

So you've bought yourself a bag of quinoa but now you don't know what to do with it! Don't worry, we're here to help.

How to cook quinoa

Cinnamon Sugar Chickpea Cookies

These cookies might sound a bit strange but they're sweet and chewy making them the perfect partner for a cuppa!

Get the recipe

Video: Fermented Tomato Ketchup

Ready to try something new? Watch Emma's recipe video for a delicious Fermented Tomato Ketchup!

Get the recipe

Kick it up a notch!

Our Herbamare combines herbs and vegetables with a little sea salt to create a delicious, healthy seasoning for any dish!

Find out more

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

Very dry, irritated or tired eyes? Try A.Vogel Extra Moisturising Eye Drops