Cherry Tomatoes: Nutrients, Benefits, and Uses
Cherry tomatoes are also known as “cocktail tomatoes.” Like other varieties of this little fruit, this type of tomato is often used in a wide variety of recipes. It’s characterized by having a sweeter and less acidic flavor than traditional tomatoes. That’s why it makes for such a versatile ingredient.
Among other things, it’s a decorative ingredient for dishes, since apart from the red ones, there are other colors. Precisely because of its pigments, it also stands out as an abundant source of antioxidants. So, do you want to know more about its properties? Below, we’ll share them in detail.
The characteristics and origin of the cherry tomato
The cherry tomato (Lycopersicum pimpinellifolium) is a variety of the classic tomato that receives this name because of its resemblance to a cherry. Other names by which it is known are “cocktail tomato,” “Roma tomato,” or”grape tomato.”
It’s a berry-type fruit, whose colors vary from red to green, through orange, yellow, blue, or black. They measure between one and three centimeters in diameter and weigh from 10 to 15 grams.
Its shape is round or oval, depending on the variety. And despite being firm on the outside, it’s very juicy on the inside. Among other things, its flavor is predominantly sweet with a slight acid touch. Some well-known varieties are as follows:
- Pear cherry tomatoes
- Yellow cherry tomatoes
- Mini cherry tomatoes
- Round cherry tomatoes
- Kumato cherry tomatoes
- Zebra cherry tomatoes
- Hanging cheery tomatoes
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The cherry tomato is considered a likely ancestor of the traditional tomato. It was first discovered in the Andes region. Although it was in Peru where it was first cultivated, others think it dates back to Aztec Mexico. Ecuadorian and Chilean cuisine also use it as part of their culinary traditions.
With the Spanish conquest, it was brought to the European market. At first, it was used as an ornamental plant, but from the 18th century onwards, it began to be used as a food source. Nowadays, cultivars have been improved to modify them in size, flavor, and resistance.
Nutritional values of the cherry tomatoes
No matter the size of the cherry tomato, its nutritional value is as important as that of the traditional tomato. It’s considered a low-calorie fruit with high hydration power since 100 grams or about seven units barely provides 18 calories and more than 90 grams of water.
Its fat and protein values are very low since they do not reach 0.5 grams. However, its carbohydrates are close to 4 grams per 100 grams. Of these, 2.6 grams are simple sugars such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose.
This allows their rapid absorption in the intestine, which makes cherry tomatoes a good source of energy. The rest of the carbohydrates are of the dietary fiber type, with 1.2 grams per 100 grams of cherry tomato.
Among the vitamins, vitamin C – with 26 milligrams per 100 grams – and vitamin A – with 82 micrograms of retinol – stand out. It’s recommended to eat the whole fruit to get the most of these nutrients.
As for minerals, this tomato contains a great amount of potassium. A 100-gram serving provides 296 milligrams.
Cherry tomatoes have skyrocketed in popularity in gourmet markets due to the presence of bioactive compounds in the fruit. The darker the skin of the tomato, the higher the content of anthocyanins, phenolic compounds, and other antioxidants that make them beneficial to health.
Most of these properties are centered on their ability to respond to free radical attacks. These prooxidant substances generate a lot of damage inside the cells.
Among these compounds are polyphenols, such as naringenin, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol. Other substances are flavonoids, such as catechin and anthocyanins, which give red, blue, and purple hues.
Also, the carotenoids in this tomato, such as lycopene, have an antioxidant effect. These stimulate the immune system and have antitumor activity.
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The benefits of cherry tomatoes
The benefits of cherry tomatoes are linked to the presence of bioactive compounds and their abundant concentration of nutrients. The most outstanding ones are mentioned below.
They promote good vision
The presence of carotenoids in the pulp of this little fruit has provitamin A activity, so they help to improve vision and prevent certain visual diseases. For example, they reduce the risk of night blindness and ocular degeneration.
They combat cellular oxidation
The phenolic compounds in cherry tomatoes help neutralize free radicals produced by reactive oxygen species in the body. Among other things, phenols confer the following properties:
Given these properties, consuming cherry tomatoes has a positive relationship with the prevention and decrease of damage caused by degenerative diseases.
Cherry tomatoes can be a healthy part of weight loss diets
Their high water content and low-fat content make cherry tomatoes a favorite ingredient in weight loss diets. A serving of 100 grams provides very few calories in a range of preparations of which they can form part.
They help in the prevention of premature aging
Oxidative stress causes damage to cell membranes and is capable of accelerating the development of aging. Lycopene is able to stop these processes due to its antioxidant activity.
It also protects the skin from ultraviolet rays damage. It’s recommended to crush cherry tomatoes and cook them with olive oil to make the best use of lycopene.
They’re a great source of potassium and vitamin C
The vitamin C in cherry tomatoes is used to the fullest when consumed fresh. This nutrient facilitates the absorption of iron, boosts the immune system, and increases collagen synthesis, among other functions.
On the other hand, their high potassium values make this type of tomato an ideal ingredient to maintain the balance inside and outside the cells. It’s also involved in nerve transmission and carbohydrate metabolism.
Uses of cherry tomatoes
It’s very common to eat cherry tomatoes in their natural form, either as part of salads, sandwiches, and snacks. However, they can also be processed into sauces or stews. They’re often a gourmet ingredient for pasta and pizzas.
This food is also surprising thanks to its versatility. It can be enjoyed as a snack, in tarts, jams, purees, and soups, among other recipes. In general, it can be eaten hot, cold, raw, or processed.
What to remember
The cherry tomato contains nutrients and benefits as interesting as those of the classic tomato. It’s a vehicle for a wide range of antioxidants, such as lycopene, polyphenols, anthocyanins, and flavonoids.
It’s best to eat them whole and fresh in order to take advantage of all their vitamin C. However, to make the best use of their lycopene, it’s recommended to prepare them with olive oil. This type of tomato is a very good option to flavor dishes or to use as a garnish. It provides a slightly sweet flavor that’s easy to love!It might interest you...