EN on Foods

August 2016 Issue

Notable Nutrients: Tomatoes

1 cup (180g), red, raw, chopped or sliced.

Calories: 32
Vitamin A: 1499 IU (30% DV)
Vitamin C: 23mg (38% DV)
Vitamin K: 14 mcg (18% DV)
Potassium: 427mg (12% DV)
Manganese: 0.2mg (10% DV)

Note: c= cup, g = gram, mg = milligram, mcg = microgram, IU = international unit, DV = daily value, based on a 2,000 calories a day diet.

Mexican Tomatoes Recipe


- 2 large tomatoes, cut in wedges
- 1 fresh Serrano or Jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 c jicama, peeled and shredded
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1/3 c vinegar
- 2 Tbsp salad oil
- Lettuce leaves


1. In a glass or non-metal bowl, combine the tomatoes, chopped chiles, cilantro, jicama, and green onion.
2. Shake together the vinegar and oil; drizzle over salad. Chill or serve immediately with a slotted spoon on lettuce leaves.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 96 calories, 7 grams (g) fat, 7 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 7 milligrams sodium

Recipe adapted courtesy Frieda’s Specialty Produce

Here’s To Tomatoes!

The Folklore

Brilliant red tomatoes tug heavily at their vines, ripe and plump with the flavor and fragrance of summer. This highly anticipated seasonal favorite is native to South America. Tomatoes were first cultivated in Mexico by the Aztecs, who named it tomatl, which means “the swelling fruit.” The delicious tomato that’s so cherished today was shunned when it arrived in medieval Europe where it was thought to be poisonous for its resemblance and relationship to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, some of which had hallucinogenic effects. Of course, its reputation improved and this hot weather darling stars in our favorite summertime repasts, from cool gazpacho to a hearty pasta sauce, serving up tradition, flavor, and good nutrition.

The Facts

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are members of the same family as eggplants, potatoes, and peppers. Though we eat the tomato as a vegetable, it is actually not just a fruit, but a berry! There are more than a thousand tomato varieties in different colors—red, orange, and yellow, purple, brown, and black; and shapes—round, oval, pear; and sizes—tiny grape tomato, medium Roma, large beefsteak. Tomatoes are packed with antioxidant vitamins A and C, which, along with lycopene, help protect cells from harmful free radicals. Their rich concentration of lycopene, the powerful plant chemical that gives tomatoes their beautiful red hue, is associated with many health benefits, such as heart and cancer protection.

The Findings

Lycopene was found to lower the risk of prostate cancer when consumption of lycopene-rich foods, such as tomatoes, was increased (Medicine, 2015). It also has been shown to prevent and treat oral diseases, such as oral cancer, leukoplakia (patches on mucus membranes), and periodontal disease (International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015). And, according to a study in Nutrition (2015), drinking tomato juice daily for two months significantly reduced the waist size, serum cholesterol, and inflammatory levels of adipokines (which may lead to insulin resistance and atherosclerosis) in young women; this supports prior findings that lycopene protects against chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Nevinates | Dreamstime.com

The Finer Points

Bought in season, July through September, tomatoes taste truly superior. Ripe tomatoes are fragrant, deeply colored, have smooth skins, and are firm, but give to gentle pressure. They will keep up to a week at room temperature. Refrigerate if they’re ripe and you’re not ready to use them. Canned and jarred tomatoes and tomato products, such as tomato paste and sauce, are a convenient option. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy beat-the-heat, no-cook tomato recipes. Salsa, salads—try chunks of tomato in Italian and Greek salads with onions, cucumbers and olives—sliced with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of chopped basil, or atop a whole grain cracker with soft cheese, red onion and a dash of pepper.

Lori Zanteson