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Vitamins and Minerals Found Inside Tomatoes

Tomato and Cross Section of a TomatoTomatoes -- while strawberries are my all-time favorite fruit, tomatoes are my all-time favorite pseudo-vegetable.

Botanically speaking, tomatoes are actually a fruit (more specifically, a berry) so maybe that is why I'm partial to them.

Tomatoes are loaded with nutrients our bodies seek, including valuable nutrients like lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against some cancers.

Tomatoes can be both nutritious and delicious when juiced but don't combine them with other juices (a few exceptions apply - see below).

Here are a few of the questions we attempt to answer about tomatoes.

  • What vitamins in Tomatoes make them so good for us?
  • What is the best method for juicing Tomatoes?
  • What are some great buying tips for Tomatoes?

Plus, we'll do our best to provide some general information about tomatoes that you might not find so easily elsewhere on the Internet.

Let's begin our exploration of tomatoes...

Vitamins and Minerals in Tomatoes

Eaten raw and preferably right from the vine, tomatoes provide the body with sulfur, phosphorus, and organic sodium. You also get a very high dose of Vitamin C from eating tomatoes. Here is a brief snapshot of the vitamins and minerals found in tomatoes.

Vitamins in Tomatoes

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Folate (important during pregnancy)
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6

Minerals in Tomatoes

  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Also contains small amounts of manganese, copper and zinc.

Although I prefer to eat tomatoes, they can add a powerful boost to your daily nutrition through juicing, too.

Tips for Juicing Tomatoes

Juicing your own tomatoes rather than buying store-bought tomato juice might be a better way to get the full benefits of tomatoes for those who are closely watching their salt consumption as most tomato juices in the market tend to have high sodium content (salt is added during manufacturing).

Here are a few tips for juicing tomatoes that may help turn your juicing experience into something you look forward to and thoroughly enjoy.

As with melons, it is recommended you do not juice tomatoes with other ingredients. The exceptions might be juicing tomatoes with celery or cucumber juice.

Do not expect the syrupy, salty liquid that pours from a can when you juice your own fresh, ripe, juicy tomatoes.

Fresh home-made tomato juice using a juicer is thick and cloudy and tastes far more of the tomato than canned does.

Purchasing Tips for Buying Tomatoes

vine ripened tomatoes on the bushIf you are unable to grow your own, then here are a few tips for buying tomatoes that may help you get the freshest ingredients. We'll also include a few storing tips for tomatoes that you might find helpful.

The best tomatoes have good shape to them and a distinctive aroma with a deep red color, although they may be yellow at the stem end.

Tomatoes should feel heavy and yield when pressed.

Whenever possible buy locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes. If they are grown organically, all the better as organically grown tomatoes tend to have the best flavor (in my humble opinion).

Green tomatoes should be avoided as they may be harmful to the kidneys.

Tomatoes bought at the supermarket were most likely picked green and may have been gassed so that they turned red. This does not always mean they are ripe (and it rarely means they taste good). Therefore, you should let overly firm tomatoes sit out at room temperature for 4 to 5 days to ripen further and soften.

Once an unripe tomato drops below the 54.5 degree F temperature, it will not continue to ripen.

When ripe, store tomatoes for a few days in the refrigerator or in a cool area. They do not keep very long once completely ripe.

General Information About Tomatoes

This article wouldn't be complete if we didn't include a little general information about Tomatoes, as well as a few helpful links if you want to explore tomatoes further.

More than 125 tons of tomatoes are produced in the world today with China being the largest producer, followed by the United States and Turkey.

Genetic evidence shows that the progenitors of tomatoes were herbaceous green plants with small green fruit with a center of diversity in the highlands of Peru. These early Solanums diversified into the dozen or so species of tomato recognized today. One species, Solanum lycopersicum, was transported to Mexico where it was grown and consumed by prehistoric humans. The exact date of domestication is not known.

Tomatoes, like potatoes, sweet peppers, and eggplants, belong to the nightshade family. Solanines are toxic substances present in minute quantities in all members of the nightshade family; they may trigger headaches in susceptible people.

Brought to Europe from Central America by the Spanish during the 16th century, tomatoes were grown as decorative plants, often referred to as poisonous love apples, in northern Europe, where it was feared that poisons in the leaves might be present in the fruit as well.

It was the Spanish and the Italians that discovered tomatoes were edible. When they immigrated to the United States, they brought their taste for tomatoes with them.

Some people believe that the Spanish explorer Cortez may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtítlan , now Mexico City in 1521. Yet others believe Christopher Columbus, an Italian working for the Spanish monarchy, discovered the tomato earlier in 1493.

The word tomato comes from a word in the Nahuatl language, tomatl. The specific name, lycopersicum, means "wolf-peach" as they are a major food of wild canids in South America.The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, though the author had apparently obtained these recipes from Spanish sources.

Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other things.

Recent good health news for men is that eating tomatoes regularly may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. (Cooked tomatoes appear to be more effective than fresh, regardless of which variety of tomato is eaten.)

Since "vegetable" is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in a plant part being a fruit botanically while still being considered a vegetable. Perhaps this is why the tomato has gotten away with being considered a vegetable for so long?

At the time of writing this article, tomatoes have been linked to seven salmonella outbreaks since 1990. Watch for our articles on Food Safety in BLV Health Watch.

Additional Sources and Resources for Tomatoes

Additional Sources/Resources for Tomatoes

 

Be sure to check out both our "Juicing" and our "Smoothies" sections for delicious recipes and more using Tomatoes!