Is eating fried green tomatoes good for you?

Fried green tomatoes are a popular Southern dish consisting of green tomatoes that are dipped in batter and deep fried. They have a crunchy exterior and a tart, firm interior. Fried green tomatoes became widely known outside of the South in the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes, based on the novel by the same name. While fried green tomatoes have a unique flavor and texture, many people wonder if this tasty treat is actually good for you.

Are fried green tomatoes healthy?

The answer depends on how they are prepared. Fried green tomatoes have the potential to be a healthy food, but can also end up high in calories, fat, and sodium if not cooked properly.

Green tomatoes themselves are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene which can benefit eye health. Unripe green tomatoes also contain higher levels of vitamin C and citric acid than ripe red tomatoes.

However, deep frying adds a significant amount of fat and calories. The breading and oil absorb a lot of these calories. Using healthier frying methods can reduce the fat content of fried green tomatoes. Oven-frying or air-frying are better options than deep frying. Choosing healthier breading ingredients like cornmeal or panko breadcrumbs over white flour also lowers the calorie count.

The other consideration is the type of oil used for frying. Healthier oils like avocado oil or olive oil add monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats compared to saturated fats in oils like vegetable shortening. Using excessive oil leads to greasy fried green tomatoes, so proper portioning of oil is also important.

Overall, fried green tomatoes have the potential to be a nutritious food when prepared with care to reduce unnecessary fats and calories. The tomatoes themselves provide beneficial antioxidants and nutrients. Controlling oil quantity, choosing cooking methods like oven frying, and utilizing healthier breading creates a balanced fried green tomato dish.

Nutritional profile of fried green tomatoes

The nutritional value of fried green tomatoes can vary considerably based on preparation method. Here is the approximate nutritional profile of a typical fried green tomato recipe with cornmeal breading deep fried in vegetable oil:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 158
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Sodium 127 mg
Total Carbohydrates 10 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 2 g

As you can see, a single fried green tomato can deliver nearly 160 calories and 11 grams of fat. However, alternate cooking methods can reduce the fat and calorie count. Oven-frying instead of deep-frying reduces the fat content. Using breadcrumbs rather than batter also lowers the calorie density.

Important nutrients in fried green tomatoes include dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants like beta-carotene. Green tomatoes contain higher vitamin C than ripe red tomatoes. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their green color and provides vitamin A benefits.

Overall, moderate portions of properly prepared fried green tomatoes can be part of a balanced diet. Enjoying them occasionally controls calories while still obtaining their unique flavor and nutrients.

Health benefits of green tomatoes

Green tomatoes are harvested before they fully ripen on the vine. Their unripe state provides some different nutritional benefits than ripe red tomatoes. Here are some of the top health benefits of green tomatoes:

– Higher antioxidant content – Green tomatoes contain higher levels of antioxidants including beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin C which help fight free radical damage in the body.

– More vitamin C – Unripe green tomatoes can have up to three times the vitamin C content of ripe tomatoes. Vitamin C supports immune function.

– Increased vitamin K levels – Important for blood clotting, vitamin K is found in greater concentrations in green tomatoes compared to red.

– More potassium – With their tart flavor, green tomatoes contain higher potassium levels which supports healthy blood pressure.

– Potential anti-cancer benefits – Animal studies have found that antioxidants in green tomatoes may inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. However, more research is needed.

– Lower sugar content – Those looking to reduce sugar intake may tolerate the tart green tomatoes better than sweeter, ripe red tomatoes.

When enjoyed in moderation, the nutrients and antioxidants in green tomatoes can be part of an overall healthy diet. Lightly cooking or frying maintains these benefits.

Are there any downsides to eating fried green tomatoes?

While fried green tomatoes have some nutritional positives, there are also a few potential downsides to keep in mind:

– High in calories and fat when deep fried – The combination of a cornmeal coating and being fully submerged in hot oil adds a significant amount of calories and fat. Enjoy fried green tomatoes in moderate portions.

– Low in fiber – The frying process and removal of skin can lower the fiber content compared to a fresh raw green tomato.

– May contain trans fats – If fried in an oil containing trans fats, the quantity of this unhealthy fat goes up. Avoid frying in hydrogenated vegetable oils.

– High sodium – Salt is added during the breading process and for seasoning. Watch your sodium intake if also consuming other salty foods the same day.

– Acrylamide formation – Frying starchy foods at high temperatures may cause acrylamide to form which is a potential carcinogen.

– Loss of vitamin C – Exposure to high heat can degrade vitamin C levels in the tomatoes. lightly cooking helps maintain vitamin C.

The key is enjoying fried green tomatoes in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. Be mindful of portion sizes and preparation methods to minimize the negatives and derive the most benefits.

Healthier ways to enjoy fried green tomatoes

Here are some tips for healthier fried green tomatoes:

– Oven “fry” instead of deep frying – Baking uses less oil for a lower fat alternative. Set oven to 425°F and bake 15-20 minutes.

– Use whole grain flour – Try whole wheat flour rather than white flour to increase fiber.

– Skip the batter – For lower calories and carbs, dust with cornmeal and spices instead.

– Choose healthier oils – Oils like olive, avocado and canola have better fat profiles than solid fats like shortening.

– Reduce portion size – Stick to 1-2 fried green tomatoes per serving to control calories and fat intake.

– Season lightly – Go easy on high sodium seasonings and salt. Add black pepper, garlic powder and paprika instead.

– Use lower fat buttermilk – Substitute fat free buttermilk instead of full fat to cut calories while still getting a tasty coating.

– Try oven-baked “fries” – For a lower fat snack, slice green tomatoes into fries, toss with oil and bake until crispy.

With some simple substitutions and cooking adjustments, fried green tomatoes can be a healthier addition to a Southern-inspired meal. Focus on controlling portion sizes as well.

How to make healthier fried green tomatoes at home

Here is a delicious recipe for oven-baked fried green tomatoes with Greek yogurt ranch dip:

– 3 medium green tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
– 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
– 1⁄4 cup cornmeal
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1⁄4 tsp garlic powder
– 1⁄4 tsp onion powder
– 1⁄4 tsp paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1⁄4 cup low fat buttermilk
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp minced dill
– 1 tbsp minced chives

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and slice green tomatoes. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.
3. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and seasonings.
4. Lightly brush both sides of tomato slices with olive oil.
5. Working one at a time, coat tomato slices in breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
6. Arrange on baking sheet in a single layer, spacing apart.
7. Bake 15 minutes then gently flip and bake 10-15 minutes more until crispy and golden brown.
8. While tomatoes bake, make the dip. Whisk together yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, dill and chives. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
9. Serve baked fried green tomatoes immediately with ranch dip. Dip can be stored covered in refrigerator up to 5 days.

This oven-baked version uses only 2 tbsp of olive oil to coat 12 tomato slices versus being fully submerged in oil for deep frying. Whole wheat panko and cornmeal add fiber and the Greek yogurt dip provides protein. Enjoy as a lighter appetizer or side.

Fried Green Tomato Recipes

Beyond the classic Southern-style pan fried green tomatoes, there are many delicious recipes that put a unique spin on this crispy vegetable dish:

– Fried green tomato BLT – Top fried tomatoes with crispy turkey bacon, lettuce and roasted garlic aioli on whole grain toast.

– Caprese salad with fried green tomatoes – Alternate between fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and sliced fried green tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction.

– Fried green tomato po’ boy – Layer fried tomatoes with shredded lettuce, pickles, and remoulade sauce on a hoagie roll.

– Fried green tomato wedge salad – Top a bed of romaine and kale with 1-2 fried tomato wedges, blue cheese crumbles, chopped pecans and buttermilk ranch dressing.

– Chicken parmesan with fried green tomatoes – Substitute breaded, pan-fried green tomato slices instead of chicken in this classic Italian dish.

– Fried green tomatoes Benedict – Use fried green tomatoes as the base for eggs Benedict instead of English muffins. Top with ham, poached eggs and hollandaise.

– Fried green tomato fries – For an appetizer or side dish, cut unripe green tomatoes into wedges or strips, coat in cornmeal and bake or fry until crispy. Sprinkle with parmesan.

With their mild tart flavor and crunchy exterior, fried green tomatoes pair well with Southern classics like shrimp, chicken and grits. But they can also be used creatively in Italian, Tex-Mex, breakfast and salad recipes.


Fried green tomatoes can be a tasty and healthier alternative to other fried vegetables when prepared properly. Choosing healthy cooking techniques like oven-frying and utilizing whole grain coatings reduces the calorie, fat and sodium content. In moderation, fried green tomatoes provide antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, fiber and potassium from the unripe, green tomatoes. Just be mindful of portion sizes and accompany fried green tomatoes with other nutritious foods as part of an overall balanced diet. With a few adjustments, you can enjoy the crispy breaded goodness of fried green tomatoes as a flavorful and nutritious addition to meals.

Leave a Comment