Do they all have the same nutrition?
Black, orange, yellow, red… they’re all luscious, juicy, sweet tomatoes. 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 great information on health benefits and nutrition of the different colored tomatoes.
Home Grown Tomatoes
Do you remember that Home Grown Tomatoes song..? We’re sharing that at the end for nostalgia’s sake as well as for a celebratory jig for the delight of tomato season!
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, 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.
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!
The Best Summer Medicine… Lycopene!
First, what is lycopene and how is it beneficial?
Lycopene is a vital antioxidant that has been shown to have potent anticancerous activity. This compound is not naturally produced in your body, so it must be supplied via your diet. Mercola.com1)http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/25/organic-tomatoes.aspx
But are all tomatoes equally nutritious? Does a yellow-orange tomato have the same levels of antioxidants, namely lycopene, as the red? What about a purple or “black tomatoes”? Hmmmm?
Here’s what we discovered doing the research (see appended sources):
We focused on the health benefits of our favorite tomatoes, regardless of the color. It turns out that all the tomatoes contain the same nutrients, however, depending on the color of the tomatoes the amount of lycopene 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. 2)https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/tomatoes/
Tomato Nutrients: Red, Yellow, and Black Tomatoes
All Contain these Essentials
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 – lycopene is not destroyed through cooking processes. In fact studies have shown cooking may actually enhance availability of such antioxidants.3)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.4)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 (28% of daily RDA in one medium tomato)
- 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
Red Fruits are Lycopene Rich
That’s what we’ve always heard.
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.5)http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/tomato.html
But… So are Other Colored Tomatoes!
What we were surprised to learn:
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.
Lycopene from orange and tangerine colored tomatoes may be better absorbed by the body.
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.6)http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=447)http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/nutrition/lycopene-in-tomatoes-zmgz16fmzsto.aspx
Yellow and orange tomatoes have additional nutrients and better lycopene absorption.
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, because from what we’ve discovered, it seems the same benefits found in the reds are still there in other colors!8)http://www.natureword.com/tag/black-tomato-nutrition-table/ What’s more, some varieties, like the yellow tomatoes, have additional nutrients like beta carotene, niacin, and iron.9)http://www.prevention.com/content/which-healthier-red-tomatoes-vs-yellow-tomatoes
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 10)http://www.prevention.com/content/which-healthier-red-tomatoes-vs-yellow-tomatoes
What kind of tomatoes are you growing this year? Join the conversation on the Gardens All Facebook page.
For help on growing and caging tomatoes, you may enjoy these articles.11)http://growing tomatoes12)https://gardensall.com/guide-pruning-tomato-plants/13)https://gardensall.com/tomato-cages-you-can-build/
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
- Amish Paste
And… you’re into John Denver, tomatoes and nostalgia, you’ll enjoy singing along with this catchy tune!
Happy Tomato Harvests!
References [ + ]