Tomatoes are a healthy and nutritious food that can be a great addition to a balanced diet. With their bright red color and juicy texture, tomatoes are a popular ingredient in many dishes from sandwiches to salads to sauces. While tomatoes are low in calories, some people are curious exactly how many calories are contained in one large, raw tomato.
One large, raw tomato (approx. 123g) contains around 22 calories. The exact calorie count can vary slightly depending on factors like variety and specific size. But in general, one large tomato averages about 22 calories.
Explaining Tomato Calories
The calories in raw tomatoes come mainly from carbohydrates and a small amount of protein.
Here is the nutrition breakdown for one large tomato (123g):
As you can see, the majority of calories come from carbohydrates. Tomatoes have a small amount of natural sugars, accounting for most of their carbohydrate content. They also provide a bit of dietary fiber and protein. Fat content is negligible.
The volume of a large tomato weighs around 123g or 4.3oz. This portion size determines the total calorie amount. Smaller tomatoes will have fewer calories, while bigger tomatoes will have more. But on average, 123g is considered a large, whole tomato.
Calories in tomatoes can also vary slightly depending on factors like:
– Tomato variety – Heirloom vs conventional, cherry vs beefsteak, etc.
– Ripeness – More ripe tomatoes tend to be softer with more sugars.
– Growing conditions – Sunlight, temperature, soil, etc impacts nutrients.
– Serving – Whole vs chopped, canned vs fresh, cooked vs raw.
But the differences are usually minimal. Most large raw tomatoes have around 20-25 calories per 123g serving.
Tomato Calories Compared to Other Foods
Tomatoes are very low in calories compared to many other fruits and vegetables. For comparison, here are the calories in 123g portions of some other foods:
As you can see, tomatoes are lower in calories than most other raw fruits and vegetables for the same serving size. Cucumbers are the only food with fewer calories per 123g serving.
This makes tomatoes an excellent low-calorie addition to a diet for weight management. Their juiciness and flavor also add lots of taste for minimal calories.
Daily Calorie Recommendations
To put tomato calories into the context of daily needs, here are some general guidelines for calorie intake based on age and activity level:
– Sedentary adult women: around 1600-2200 calories per day
– Sedentary adult men: around 2000-2600 calories per day
– Active adult women: around 2000-2400 calories per day
– Active adult men: around 2400-3000 calories per day
Your personal calorie needs vary based on many factors like height, weight goals, and exercise routine. But in general, one large tomato makes up about 1% of the calories needed for an average day. For a 2000 calorie diet, one whole tomato would account for 22 out of 2000 total daily calories.
So tomatoes are an excellent food for reducing overall calorie intake throughout the day. Their water content also helps promote fullness. Adding tomatoes to meals like salads, sandwiches, salsa, and soups can help increase portion sizes while keeping calorie counts low.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
In addition to being low in calories, tomatoes provide many other nutrients and antioxidants. Here are some of the top health benefits of adding more tomatoes to your diet:
Tomatoes are the best dietary source of lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red pigment. Research suggests lycopene may help protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.
One large tomato provides about 28% of the RDI for vitamin C. Vitamin C supports immune function and helps make collagen in the body. It also acts as an antioxidant.
Tomatoes contain lots of the mineral potassium. This nutrient helps regulate blood pressure and muscle contractions.
Also called phylloquinone, vitamin K1 supports bone health and blood clotting. Tomatoes provide about 12% of the RDI for vitamin K1 per serving.
Important for cell growth and metabolism, tomatoes provide 7% of the RDI for folate in one large tomato. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy.
So while tomatoes are low in calories, they deliver many other important nutrients and plant compounds that provide significant health benefits.
Uses for Tomatoes
Because of their versatile flavor and texture, tomatoes can be used in many dishes:
Chopped tomato adds juiciness, color, and nutrition to leafy green and vegetable salads. Try adding tomato chunks to a bed of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, onion, and avocado.
Sandwiches and Wraps
Sliced tomato is a classic sandwich topping. Try it on turkey sandwiches, BLTs, or veggie wraps.
Salsa and Sauces
Blend tomatoes into homemade salsa, pasta sauce, or tomato sauce. Tomatoes pair well with garlic, onions, herbs and spices.
Soups and Stews
Add chopped tomatoes to soups like minestrone, gazpacho, or tomato basil. Tomatoes add nutrition and texture.
Kabobs and Skewers
Thread tomato chunks onto skewers with other veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers. Brush with oil and seasonings.
No pizza is complete without tomato sauce and sliced tomatoes on top!
Tomatoes pair well with so many ingredients and dishes. Because of their low calorie content, you can use tomatoes liberally to add flavor and volume to meals and snacks.
Tips for Selecting Tomatoes
All types of tomatoes have similar calorie counts. But here are some tips for picking flavorful tomatoes:
– Choose tomatoes that feel heavy for their size with smooth, taut skin. This indicates good ripeness.
– Avoid tomatoes that are wrinkled, saggy, or have bruises or soft spots.
– Look for vibrant coloring without green areas. Deep reds, oranges, purples, and pinks indicate optimal ripeness.
– Heirloom tomatoes offer exceptional flavor and come in interesting colors and shapes.
– Let tomatoes ripen further at room temperature if needed. Do not refrigerate unripe tomatoes.
– For canned tomatoes, choose products with minimal added sugars, oils, and sodium.
– Store ripe tomatoes at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Use within a few days for best quality.
Choosing optimally ripe, fresh tomatoes helps maximize flavor and texture. But the calorie difference is minimal across most varieties.
Are Tomatoes Good for Weight Loss?
With only 22 calories in a large tomato, this vegetable is an excellent choice for reducing calorie intake to lose weight. Tomatoes provide bulk and satiety with minimal calories.
Research suggests tomatoes may aid weight loss in a few ways:
– Low energy density – Few calories for the volume tomatoes provide. This helps reduce overall calorie intake.
– High water content – The water in tomatoes contributes to fullness. One study found tomato juice before meals increased feelings of satiety and reduced subsequent calorie intake.
– Potential impacts on fat breakdown – Some compounds in tomatoes may help reduce fat cell formation and fat accumulation. More research is needed in this area.
– Nutrient support – Nutrients like vitamin C and potassium support energy levels for exercise. Lycopene offers antioxidants.
Tomatoes support weight loss best when combined with an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle. But choosing tomatoes over higher calorie options can help reduce daily calorie totals to promote shedding pounds.
Other Tomato Nutrition Facts
In addition to low calorie content, tomatoes contain an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:
– Excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K1, potassium, folate, and manganese
– Good source of vitamin E, B6, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, choline, zinc, and iron
– Rich in antioxidants like lycopene, beta carotene and lutein
– Contain beneficial plant compounds like chlorogenic acid
Tomatoes provide all these nutrients for very few calories, making them one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around.
Eating tomatoes is associated with reduced inflammation, decreased cancer risk, improved blood pressure, and lower oxidative stress. Their combination of nutrients, antioxidants, and low calories makes them a very healthy choice.
Finding the Healthiest Tomato Products
In addition to fresh tomatoes, many processed tomato products can still offer nutrition. To maximize benefits, here are some tips for choosing healthy tomato foods and condiments:
– Canned tomatoes – Select products packed in tomato juice or water. Avoid added sugar or oils. Seek low sodium options.
– Tomato sauce – Choose varieties with minimal added sugars or oils. Tomato sauces can provide lycopene.
– Tomato paste – Offers concentrated amounts of nutrients like lycopene. Use small amounts to boost flavor.
– Sun-dried tomatoes – Excellent source of lycopene, but can be high in sodium. Rinse before use or choose no-salt-added.
– Tomato juice – Provide hydration and nutrition. Make sure no added sugar. Low sodium is ideal.
– Ketchup – Often high in added sugar. Look for low sugar ketchups or just use small amounts.
– Tomato soup – Opt for reduced sodium versions and avoid those with added cream or oils.
With some savvy label reading, you can find healthy tomato products that retain nutrients and antioxidant compounds while staying low in calories.
Tomatoes are generally well tolerated, but tomato allergies can occur. Symptoms may include:
– Itching or tingling sensations in the mouth
– Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat
– Skin reactions like hives, rash or swelling
– Digestive issues like vomiting, cramps, or diarrhea
Tomato allergies are more common in young children, with many outgrowing the allergy by school age. Avoiding raw tomatoes is the most effective management, but cooked tomatoes are often tolerated. See an allergist if tomato allergies are suspected.
Fortunately, severe tomato allergies are uncommon. Most people can enjoy tomatoes safely as part of a healthy diet.
Final Thoughts on Calories in Tomatoes
One large, raw tomato contains about 22 calories. Tomatoes provide an impressive amount of nutrition for their low calorie content. As non-starchy vegetables with a high water content, tomatoes are very low in calories by volume.
This makes tomatoes a great food for controlling calorie intake and losing weight. Their bright flavor and versatility also make tomatoes easy to add to many healthy recipes and meals. While tomato allergies can occur, most people can reap the many benefits of tomatoes for minimal calories.