Published: April 13, 2018
The tomato plant, Solanum lycopersicum, belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family and is grown in most temperate climates worldwide as well as in greenhouses year round.
Approximately 7,500 different tomato varieties exist and are used for a variety of purposes.
Edible tomatoes are the fruits of the plant, although often considered as vegetables due to how they are used and/or their nutrition content and taste.
The fruit or berry contains the ovary and seeds of the flowering plant and are produced in a variety of sizes and colours.
Tomatoes, which are thought to be native to western South America, can be found wild or cultivated.
As with many fruits, tomatoes have high water content, approximately 95%, with very small amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. As such tomatoes contribute very little energy to your diet even when concentrated as tomato puree.
In particular, the sugar content of tomatoes is significantly lower than that of most fruits and consequently tomatoes are often used as, and considered, vegetables.
Other fruits which are often considered and used as vegetables include, bell peppers, cucumbers, green beans, eggplants, avocados, and all squash varietals.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene (particularly lycopene), and potassium, and contribute small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, biotin, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
CSPI: Nutrition action, 2011 (June), 2013 (February), 2014 (April)