Renaissance Europeans couldn't have been more wrong when they denounced tomatoes as poisonous. Though grape tomatoes, like all tomatoes, are members of the nightshade family, they are one of the best things you can eat. They are low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, may provide protection against cancer and can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways.
Tomatoes have a fascinating history. According to the Epicurious food dictionary, tomatoes are native to the Western hemisphere and members of the nightshade family. This family relationship is probably why, according to "The Food Lover's Companion" by Sharon Tyler Herbst, Renaissance Europeans thought tomatoes where poisonous. Standard tomatoes didn't gain a following in American cuisine until 1900, and grape tomatoes came along even later, showing up in American supermarkets in the 1960s, according to Good Housekeeping magazine.
Basic Nutrition Information
Grape tomatoes offer flavor without too many calories. A full cup of grape or cherry tomatoes, more than enough for a snack or to mix into a chef's salad, contains only 27 calories. These tomatoes also provide 1.8 grams of fiber, 6 grams of complex carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
Grape tomatoes, like other types of tomatoes, are good sources of important vitamins and minerals. According to the National Nutrient Database, a cup provides 18.9 milligrams of vitamin C. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is between 75 and 90 milligrams per day, which makes the 1-cup serving of grape tomatoes a fourth of the recommended daily intake. They also contain 22 milligrams of folate and 63 milligrams of vitamin A. The same amount provides 15 milligrams of calcium, 16 milligrams of magnesium, 36 grams of phosphorus and 353 grams of potassium.
Emerging science suggests that tomatoes may be one of the best cancer-fighting foods. According to a study quoted by Selene Yeager, author of "The Doctors Book of Food Remedies," eating seven or more servings of tomato-based foods per week can cut the risk of developing colon, rectal and stomach cancer by as much as 60 percent. Tomatoes also, according to Yeager, contain saponins, which are known to protect against breast and prostate cancers.
In the Kitchen
Tomatoes can be cooked many different ways. When cooking with fresh tomatoes, Yeager recommends you choose ripe, unbruised specimens. According to Yeager, you can make your own “sun-dried” tomatoes by cutting grape tomatoes in half and baking in a low oven--about 120 degrees F--until leathery but still pliable. Good Housekeeping magazine recommends using grape tomatoes as out-of-hand snacks for you, or your kids, since they are sweeter and thus often more appealing than standard tomatoes.
- Good Housekeeping: All About Grape Tomatoes
- The Doctor's Book of Food Remedies; Selene Yeager
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Tomatoes
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Vitamin C