How many calories is a tomato?
April 9, 2011 11:15 PM   Subscribe

How many calories is a tomato?

The other day, I took a whole beefsteak tomato, and cut it up into chunks. I dressed it with a little salt and pepper and diced red onion and a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and it was tasty, but honestly the oil/vinegar mix was kind of superfluous, because the tomato itself was really delicious and surprisingly filling. This got me wondering how many calories a beefsteak tomato was all by itself.

I've consulting Google, but places seem to be saying that a whole beefsteak tomato of about 150 grams, a third of a pound, is 25 calories. And that can't possibly be right. So, maybe someone here can offer more specific information, or confirm that the internet is not, in fact, lying to me.
posted by kafziel to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
 
Would you trust the USDA? Their calculation for a whole, large tomato (3 inch diameter) was 33 calories.

There really isn't a whole lot of macronutrients in most veggies.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:25 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That isn't suprising to me at all. When you think about it, vegetables (well, ok, non-sweet fruits) like tomatoes are made up mostly of water and fibre (and tastiness).
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 11:27 PM on April 9, 2011


That sounds about right -- I mean, tomatoes are mostly water, and they don't contain all that much sugar (compared to other fruits).
posted by btfreek at 11:28 PM on April 9, 2011


Well I'll be damned. Gonna have to start eating chunked tomato more often, then. Thanks!
posted by kafziel at 11:28 PM on April 9, 2011


I'm sure that, in the scientific sense, there are many more than 25 calories in a large tomato. Here's the rub though: human stomachs and intestinal tracs are not well designed to digest plant matter. Most of that tomato is going to pass right through you or be broken down by your intestinal flora. So 25 digestible calories is not really surprising.

Fruits are a different beast entirely, having an awful lot of fructose in them.
posted by sbutler at 11:31 PM on April 9, 2011


A kilogram (2.2lbs) of spinach is about 250 Calories. You would need to eat 8 kilo (17.6lbs) to meet that holy 2000kcal daily target. This is why before processed grains, man ate lots of meat.
posted by jedrek at 12:48 AM on April 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


the self.com nutrition data visualization is the best I've found and appears to just wrap the USDA data. I wish livestrong and fitday used the same backend and frontend.

As you'd expect from a fruit, the bulk of the calories in tomatoes are in the form of fructose. But they are not dense; the glycemic load is very low.
posted by rr at 8:48 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure that, in the scientific sense, there are many more than 25 calories in a large tomato. Here's the rub though: human stomachs and intestinal tracs are not well designed to digest plant matter. Most of that tomato is going to pass right through you or be broken down by your intestinal flora. So 25 digestible calories is not really surprising.

"In the US, soluble fiber must be counted as 4 Calories per gram, but insoluble fiber may be (and usually is) treated as 0 Calories per gram and not mentioned on the label."

The USDA says a tomato has 7.08 g of carbohydrates, 4.79 of which is sugars and 2.2 of which is dietary fiber. That accounts for 28 of the 33 calories in the tomato, with the rest being made up of 1.6 g of protein. So they are counting the fiber as 4 cal/g, which means the actual caloric value of the tomato may be about 8 calories lower. It's a low number because a tomato is mostly water.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 10:34 AM on April 10, 2011


A side note, they are tasty because they are a great source of Umami for non-meat eaters.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 7:30 PM on April 10, 2011


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