The latest in our series of nutritional information posts focuses on a frequently asked question, “How many calories in a tomato?” and the answer? One medium whole tomato contains 22 calories. If you make it a large one then this will come out at 32 calories, whilst one cup of cherry tomatoes comes out at 26 calories. You can see the complete nutritional information for one medium whole tomato presented below.
1 Medium Whole Tomato
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.2 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 6.2 mg 0%
Potassium 291.5 mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 4.8 g 1%
Dietary fiber 1.5 g 6%
Sugar 3.2 g
Protein 1.1 g 2%
Vitamin A 20% Vitamin C 28%
Calcium 1% Iron 1%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 3%
Percentage Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet which is recommended for an adult woman. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your dietary needs.
Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?
The tomato is commonly thought of as a vegetable but surprisingly it is a fruit. It is sometimes classed as a vegetable because of its affinity to other savory ingredients. It is however, the edible fruit of the tomato plant, which belongs to the nightshade family. Other members of the nightshade family include eggplant, peppers and chilies.
Where do tomatoes originate?
Tomatoes originated in western South America, crossed the Atlantic to Spain with the conquistadors in the 16th century and only finally caught on in northern Europe in the 19th century. The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word “tomate”, from which the English word tomato originates.
These days they are one of the most widely used ingredients available and are particularly indispensable in Mediterranean cookery. They are consumed in a variety of ways including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, in sauces, salads and drinks. They are botanically berry type fruits although they are often thought of as culinary vegetables because they are ingredients of savory meals.
How to choose tomatoes
Thousands of varieties of tomato are grown in temperate climates around the world, and greenhouses allow for the tomatoes to be produced throughout the year even in cooler areas. The tomato plant typically grows between one and three meters tall, and has a weak stem that often sprawls across the ground and vines over other plants. Tomatoes vary in size from the huge beefsteak variety to the small cherry tomatoes. The average common tomato weighs approx. 100 grams (4 oz.) and has a sweet tangy flavor.
The skin, flesh and seeds can all be eaten but the green leaves should always be discarded as they are toxic. You should go for firm tomatoes with wrinkle free skins and a noticeable tomato smell. Tomatoes have the nicest sweet flavor if they have been allowed to ripen on the vine before being picked. If you have bought under ripe tomatoes you can simply place them in a brown paper bag and leave them to ripen at room temperature or on a windowsill.
You should try to seek out locally grown tomatoes as tomatoes are best eaten soon after they have been picked. If you can see that the green leaves on top are not wilted, this is a sign of freshness.
How to store tomatoes
Refrigeration mutes the flavor of the tomatoes. They should be stored at room temperature if you intend to consume them within the day, if not then ripe tomatoes can be refrigerated in a perforated bag for a couple of days, and removed 30 minutes before you intend to eat them so that they have time to warm up.
Sources: BBC Good Food and USDA