Native to temperate South American climates, tomatoes are perennial fruits that can be found in yellow, green, pink, orange and red varieties. Due to the longer winter season, tomatoes are grown as annuals in Canada. The bright colour of this fruit can be attributed to a form of carotenoid pigment called lycopene, which is also known to be a very strong antioxidant. Tomatoes are also rich in other nutrients, such as: beta carotene, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Modern uses are centered around the antioxidant/nutritive properties of the plant and include tomato masks, peels and juices. Tomatoes are also processed into popular pastes and sauces (ie. Ketchup). Sundried tomatoes and canned-crushed tomatoes are often re-heated before being added to a dish. They can add a significant amount of flavor to salads, soups, sandwiches, meat dishes and Italian cuisine.
- Tomatoes are rich in a carotenoid called lycopene. Lycopene provides plants with a reddish-pink coloring and is also found in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, grapefruit and watermelon. Recent evidence supports the association of lycopene with anti-atherosclerotic effects, which include the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
- They are an excellent source of vitamin C. This vitamin assists in the absorption of iron, supports your immune system and maintains strong bones, skin and teeth.
- A good source of potassium. Potassium acts as an electrolyte in the body by regulating fluids and decreasing your risk of hypertension.
Nutritional Value of ½ cup (50 g) raw tomato
- 8 calories
- 2 g carbohydrate
- 0.5 g fibre
- 1 g protein
- 0 g fat
- ~ 10% daily recommended intake of vitamin C
Did You Know?
- Although tomatoes are vegetables within the cultural contexts of cuisine, botanically, this round and juicy ingredient is a fruit.
How to Prepare
Fresh tomatoes can be selected from a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. To begin preparation, however, all raw tomatoes should be rinsed under cool water. Depending on the dish you wish to create, clean tomatoes can then be cut into slices, diced or cubed into larger pieces. To avoid splatter, remember to cut your tomatoes vertically. Cherry tomatoes can be directly added to most dishes, such as salads, or chopped into smaller pieces if desired. Tomato slices can be baked or tossed into a skillet with some seasoning, while thicker pieces are best prepared in a food processor for the creation of a tomato sauce or puree. If you would like to peel your tomatoes, soften the skin first by submerging in boiling water for about 1 minute.