We love them all! Our favorite summer crop is colored tomatoes. All colors sizes and shapes! And, in case you were wondering…
Low in calories and high in nutrition:
- 1 small tomato contains ~16 calories
- 1 medium tomato contains ~22 calories
- 1 large tomato contains ~33 calories
So you can enjoy your tomatoes, guilt free. Tomatoes added to foods, also add low calorie fiber and high nutritional benefits!
Highest in Vitamins C, A and K, you’ll also get some doses of potassium, manganese and fiber and sprinklings of other nutrients.
Top 3 Tomato Nutrients
Serving Size = 1 Medium tomato
- Vitamin C — 15.6 mg @ 26% DV
- Vitamin A — 1025 I.U. @ 20% DV
- Vitamin K1 — 9.7 mcg @ 12% DV
*Listed from highest to lowest down to 2% Daily Values (DV).
Do all Colored Tomatoes Have the Same Nutrition?
Black, orange, yellow, red… no matter what colored tomatoes you slice into, they’re all luscious, juicy, sweet tomatoes. However some are easier on the palate, because they’re less acidic. Some contain more lycopene than others.
But which tomatoes are healthiest? Is tomato nutrition the same, no matter the color?
If you’re wondering which tomatoes to grow this year, here are some of our favorites, followed by some more great information on health benefits, nutrition and more for the different colored tomatoes.
Nutrition aside, we love growing colored tomatoes for the beauty and variety they bring to both garden and plate.
Home Grown Tomatoes
Last year we grew a variety of heirloom tomatoes. Some, like the Hillbilly Flame, grew way past their 10-foot cane pole stakes, requiring a 6 foot ladder to harvest!
The Cherokee Purples have been coming in on a regular basis and we so love their flavor, even if they’re not the prettiest or best formed fruits. Other varieties we’re trying out: Beefsteak (an old standby heirloom), Beauty King, Pork Chop, Pineapple, and Amish Paste.
Heirloom Tomatoes we Grew Last Year
- Hillbilly Flame
- Cherokee Purples
- Beauty King
- Pork Chop
- Amish Paste
(If you want to see images of these different tomato varieties, we’ve linked to them at the end of this article).
Most of our heirloom tomatoes are yellow-orange which are touted as being less acidic. They taste good on M & M sandwiches, aka: ‘mater and mayo’ (tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches), and fresh sliced on the plate, and of course any other way you want to eat them!
Yellow tomatoes are less acidic, so if your tongue burns from tomatoes, try yellow.
Favorite Orange and Yellow Tomatoes
For years we struggled to grow just a few tomatoes, because of being in the woods, and just not having enough all-day sunlight. Then, with the trees all around, the squirrels figured it was their personal buffet, so we had to fight them for the meager few we had.
So when we finally cut a couple trees and limbed a few more, we were so happy to finally be able to grow tomatoes that we went overboard with around 40 tomato plants!
Naturally, with that many tomatoes… plenty for M&M sandwiches and a lot more, it was a given that we had to also plant some jalapenos, onions and cilantro for some homemade salsa. The first few batches were eaten so quickly that we didn’t even need to can ’em. Que bueno!
Are all colored tomatoes equally nutritious?
All tomatoes have a similar nutritional make up, with strong antioxidant benefit and high levels of vitamins, A, C and K. However there are subtle differences in the differently colored tomatoes.
Does a yellow-orange tomato have the same levels of antioxidants, namely lycopene, as the red? What about a purple or “black tomatoes”? Hmmmm?
Red and orange fruits and veggies are commonly known to be high in lycopene. However, there are some surprises.
We focused on the health benefits of our favorite tomatoes, regardless of the color. It turns out that colored tomatoes all contain the same nutrients. Though percentages vary, the nutritional profile is much the same. However, depending on the color of the tomatoes the amount and quality of absorbable nutrients can vary.
We have listed all the information below for the benefits of lycopene, and how much lycopene the red, yellow, and black tomatoes contain. 1)https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/tomatoes/
Lycopene content in tomatoes varies by color.
All Colored Tomato Contain these Essentials Nutrients
How many calories in tomatoes? Tomato Calories: Just 22 calories per medium tomato!
How many carbs in tomatoes? Tomato Carbs: 4.8 grams per medium tomato
- Flavanones : naringenin , chalcone
- Flavonols : rutin, kaempferol , quercetin
- Hydroxycinnamic acids: caffeic acid, ferulic acid , coumaric acid
- Carotenoids : lycopene , lutein , zeaxanthin, beta-carotene
- Glycosides: esculoside A
- Fatty acid derivatives : 9-oxo -octadecadienoic acid
This favorite fruit or “fruit eaten as a vegetable”, provides many health benefits as it is very high in nutrition. Tomato nutrition includes vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Tomatoes contain lycopene which helps the body to ward off cancer, heart disease and assist our skin to fight against aging. Lycopene gives tomato its rich red color.
Even when cooked, tomatoes still provide excellent health benefits. Fortunately, lycopene is not destroyed through cooking processes. In fact studies have shown cooking may actually enhance the availability of such antioxidants as lycopene.2)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273031.php?page=2
Tomato juice is ideal for athletes as well as it quickly replaces lost minerals and sodium.
Source: ScienceDirect.com 3)http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512008964
Tomato Nutrition Facts – All Colors of Tomatoes Contain:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- B9 – Folate
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Yellow and Orange Tomatoes also Contain:
- Beta carotene
Tomato Nutrient Benefits Include
Tomatoes many nutritional benefits include support and healing for a number of conditions, including:
- Macular degeneration (good for eye health)
- Cataracts (heal or delay)
- Heart disease
- Blood & Blood pressure
- Bones – strengthens
- Neuropathy – damage to hands and feet
- Loss of minerals and sodium – (the tomato juice is good for athletes)
- Protects against the sun’s UV rays
- Protects cells that
- Fight against aging
- Improve skin health
- Protect from harmful free radicals
The best summer medicine… Lycopene!
What is lycopene and how is it beneficial?
Lycopene is a vital antioxidant with potent anti-cancer properties. Tomatoes have more lycopene than papaya, grapefruit and colored peppers, but less than watermelon.
Red Fruits are Lycopene Rich
LYCOPENE. Red variety fruits tend to possess more lycopene than other fruits (including tomatoes) of another color. Together with carotenoids, lycopene may help protect cells and other structures in the human body from harmful oxygen-free radicals. Studies shows that lycopene protects the skin from ultra-violet (UV) rays and thus offers some defence against skin cancer.4)http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/tomato.html
Do Yellow Tomatoes Contain Lycopene?
Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of many tomatoes. A small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange and tangerine colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes! That’s because the lycopene in deep red tomatoes is mostly trans-lycopene, and the lycopene in orange-tangerine tomatoes is mostly tetra-cis-lycopene.
When it comes to lycopene—or any nutrient—it’s not just how much there is, but how much your body can put to use.
In a recent study, this tetra-cis form of lycopene turned out to be more efficiently absorbed by the study participants. While more research is needed in this area, we’re encouraged to find that tomatoes may not have to be deep red in order for us to get great lycopene-related benefits.5)http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=446)http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/nutrition/lycopene-in-tomatoes-zmgz16fmzsto.aspx
Lycopene from orange and tangerine colored tomatoes have additional nutrients and may be better absorbed by the body.
Make Fiesta Salsa
Tomatoes do not have to be a deep red color to be an outstanding source of lycopene and other antioxidants. So we are inviting ALL manner of tomatoes to our homemade salsa fiesta.
Colored tomatoes make for more beautiful dishes, salsas, gazpachos and sandwiches. Some varieties, like the yellow tomatoes, have additional nutrients like beta carotene, niacin, and iron.7)http://www.prevention.com/content/which-healthier-red-tomatoes-vs-yellow-tomatoes The black, purple and blue tomatoes contain more anthocyanins such as you find in berries for boosted antioxidant known to be beneficial for inflammation and eyesight. 8)http://www.natureword.com/tag/black-tomato-nutrition-table/
Time to get those salsa makers cranking!
Red Versus Yellow Tomato Nutrition
Surprisingly, yellow tomatoes are slightly more nutritious than red tomatoes. However, all of the vibrant colors of tomatoes offer powerful nutritional benefits.
Bonus Info Graphic from Prevention Magazine 9)http://www.prevention.com/content/which-healthier-red-tomatoes-vs-yellow-tomatoes
For help on growing tomatoes, you may enjoy this article.
Next time we make our salsa recipe, we’ll measure and photograph the ingredients so we can share it. Meanwhile, here’s a cool cucumber salsa recipe that uses up some of those cukes, by the lovely Brenda on AFarmGirlsDabbles.com.
If you want to look at some of these more exotic varieties on Amazon, whether just to see what it looks like, or to buy, here are links to those:
- Hillbilly Flame – grew way past their 10-foot cane pole stakes
- Cherokee Purples – have been coming in on a regular basis and we so love their flavor
- Beefsteak (an old standby heirloom)
- Beauty King
- Pork Chop
- Pineapple (low acidic tomatoes)
- Amish Paste
And… you’re into John Denver, tomatoes and nostalgia, you’ll enjoy singing along with this catchy tune!
Happy harvests and may you grow great gardens!
G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson
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