Tomatoes – Getting the Most Nutrition?

iStock_000016264843XSmallIs Eating Heirlooms Tomatoes the Only Way to Get the Full Spectrum of Health Benefits?

Lab tests show that most of the supermarket tomatoes fail to deliver the goods.

Over the 19th and 20th centuries, horticulturists experimented like crazy with the tomato and created the bland and mealy yet sturdy new breed.

Their main goal? Making them more productive, uniform and attractive.

These bland, I won’t even call them tomatoes, grow really fast. Bugs don’t even care for them, their shelf life is lengthy and they can travel long distances without damage. Appetizing?

According to health writer/food activist, Jo Robinson in her latest book, “Eating on the Wild Side” as she refers to standard store-bought tomato breeds, “Tomatoes had a mutant gene that made them ripen uniformly. They had the unforeseen negative effect of lowered lycopene and less nutrition overall. Today’s modern tomato carries this mutant gene and are lower in lycopene as a result.”

You Know Those People That Hate Tomatoes??

We always say… “They have never tried a ‘real’ tomato.” Right?

The standard tomato is a good sell for tomato producers and sellers. For us though, it is a hard, flavorless sphere in a tomato outfit!

If you have the fortunate situation of having your own garden, tomato researcher Harry Klee recommends using heirloom seeds and little to no fertilizer.

He states, “Fertilizer elicits quick bursts of grown. When you use less or skip it all together, plants grow even slower. The plant has more time to produce such beneficial compounds as flavonoids.”

In shopping tomato shopping mode.?

 5 Need to Knows About Heirloom Tomatoes:

  • Chose by color. The darker the red, the more lycopene
  • Yellow, gold, pink, green or pale red have relatively little lycopene. They are still super tasty and good for contrasting your dishes, but use your darker versions for your best nutrient value.
  • Small, dark red tomatoes are not only sweeter, but have the MOST lycopene per ounce.
  • Cherry-sized tomatoes have more flavor, and vitamin C than their beefier siblings and more sugar as well; however, because they are low glycemic, the higher amount is really not enough to raise your blood sugar. Especially when combined with flavorful extra virgin olive oil. (remember, you need fat to absorb your fat soluble nutrients)
  • Currant tomatoes are actually a different species ( Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium), otherwise known as “pimpin tomatoes!”  That was me trying to be funny…  and the powerhouse of tomato nutrition. Packed with flavor, sweetness and an extra punch of lycopene.

Other Awesome Tomato Tidbits:

  • Tomato skin and seeds contain 50% of the vitamin C, lycopene and overall antioxidant value.
  • Tomatoes are better for you cooked than raw. Heat breaks down cell walls, making nutrients more bio-available. Just 30 minutes of cooking more than doubles lycopene content!
  • Be certain if you go looking for processed tomatoes at the supermarket. Look for tomato products sold in glass jars, BPA-free cans or tetra packs. Better yet, learn how to process your own.

“Smaller But Better? Organic Tomatoes May Pack More Nutritional Punch” Allison Aubrey, NPR, 2/20/13,

Robinson, Jo. 2013. Eating on the Wild Side. Little, Brown and Company

Cat Dillon

This blog is my journal, where I share everything wellness. From tips on healthy lifestyle to creating as much deliciousness in your life as possible.

Cat Dillon is the Cat in Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness is a unique combo of nutrition, fitness and cooking coaching all in one pretty package. Read more about Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.


  1. Brittani       August 21, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Hey! I love this article! I wanted to tell you, one thing my hubby and I use on our tomatoes is Kelp and Compost (okay . . . that’s two things lol). I get them here –, and here: They are great because they’re organic, and they are super inexpensive. :) They also don’t do the quick burst of growth like you see with a lot of fertilizers, because they are organic and break down slowly. Awesome post!!!

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