Six Healthy Facts About the Tomato

This oh-so-common fruit (yes, fruit) is uncommonly delicious, especially in our recipe for slightly hot, garlicky pasta.

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on September 09, 2010
From the WebMD Archives

Early fall tomatoes can be a special treat, as they bring with them the sharp smell and sweet taste of late summer. They also bring a nice serving of vitamins and antioxidants. Read on to learn more about the tempting tomato -- then try our even more tempting recipe for Sinfully Delicious Tomato Garlic Pasta, below.

Tomato: fruit, not vegetable

In the 1890s, the Supreme Court deemed the tomato a vegetable for tax purposes, but botanically the tomato is a fruit -- it grows from the base of the plant's flower and houses the seeds of the plant.

Why (some) tomatoes are red

Tomatoes get their reddish hue from a chemical called lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect cells from cancer-causing free radicals.

Tomato nutrition

One medium-sized tomato contains about 25 calories and 3 grams of natural sugar, and is a good source of vitamins C and A.

Best tomato storage

Think twice before storing unripened tomatoes in the refrigerator. Doing so halts ripening and dramatically reduces the flavor. Keep them at room temperature instead.

Are tomatoes toxic?

Early American settlers believed tomatoes were poisonous because of their resemblance to the deadly nightshade plant.

Biggest tomato ever

The world's largest tomato was 7 pounds, 12 ounces, grown in Oklahoma in 1986.

Sinfully Delicious Tomato Garlic Pasta

Makes six servings

3 pounds Roma tomatoes, quartered

¼ cup olive oil

1–2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

½ teaspoon salt

10 cloves garlic

8 ounces whole wheat angel hair pasta (dry)

½ cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoon reduced-fat grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400˚. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, Tabasco sauce, and salt.

Using a garlic press, press the cloves of garlic into the bowl. Mix well to combine with the tomatoes.

Transfer tomato mixture to a glass baking dish. Place it on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and mix with tomatoes and chopped basil. Garnish with Parmesan.

Per serving:

264 calories, 10 g fat,
2 g saturated fat,
1 mg cholesterol, 235 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 8 g protein. Calories from fat: 34%.

Find more recipes for cooking with tomatoes at

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California Tomato Growers Association: "Tomato Trivia."
Fruits and Veggies More Matters: "Tomato: Nutrition. Selection. Storage."
NutritionData: "Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average."
American Cancer Society: "Lycopene."
McGee, H. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Scribner, 2004.

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