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Tomatoes, Vegetable or Fruit?

Posted Dec 12 2009 12:00am

Tomatoes

Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit? Although the facts put tomatoes in the fruit category, we commonly think of them as a vegetable.

Calorie content of a 100 g Tomato is only 20 calories and these calories are easy to absorb. Tomatoes are a rich source of several nutrients. They are well known for their high vitamin C content, which increases as the vegetable ripens.

Tomatoes also contain significant amount of vitamin A, B vitamins including niacin and riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorous and calcium. They are also a good source of chromium, folate, fiber and riboflavin. Vitamin B6 and folate also work to convert the homocysteine in our bodies into harmless molecules. High levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

The fiber in tomatoes also helps lower cholesterol levels, helps prevent colon cancer and helps to keep blood sugars at a low level.

The nutritional value of tomatoes actually improves with cooking. Studies show that heat processing actually enhanced the nutritional value by increasing the lycopene content -- a phytochemical that makes the tomatoes red. lycopene is found in abundance in tomatoes, is known for its disease fighting abilities. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the cells in our bodies from damage. lycopene is actually more available to the body when the tomatoes are cooked, so cooked or canned tomatoes are just as nutritious as raw.

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