The health benefits of tomato for babies include supply of vitamin A, good source of antioxidants, helps in building stronger bones, strengthens the immune system, remedy for acidosis and reduces the chance of lead toxicity in children.
Tomato is one of the important vegetables that we consume. Almost all of us like the tangy and very little sweet flavor of tomatoes and they are used in a variety of dishes both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Tomato is believed to have originated in Peru, South America and was consumed by the local Aztec and Mayans. During the Spanish invasion 16th century on South America, the Spaniards came across tomato and took it Europe along with them. It was not until the late 18th century that Europeans actually ate tomatoes. During 16th and 18th centuries in Europe, it was believed that tomatoes were poisonous and could also cause cancer. It was only after 1860s that people came out of the superstition and started eating tomatoes.
Most consider tomato to be a vegetable, but actually it is a fruit just like eggplant, zucchini and pumpkin. But, they are considered as vegetables because they are consumed in the main course rather than a dessert or as regular fruits. This insight was used in Supreme Court judgement in 1893 in the United States when taxes were being imposed on imported vegetables. (A Morganelli, The Biography of Tomatoes).
Today, due to their high culinary usage, there is a huge demand for tomatoes all around the world. Many tropical countries have started producing tomatoes and some the biggest tomato producers in the world include China, United States, India, Turkey, Italy, Egypt and Spain.
Nutrition in tomato
The National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture lists the nutrition found in tomato as follows
|Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g||Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g|
|Water||94.78 g||Energy||16 kcal|
|Protein||1.16 g||Total lipid||0.19 g|
|Carbohydrate||3.18 g||Fiber||0.9 g|
|Calcium||5 mg||Iron, Fe||0.47 mg|
|Magnesium||8 mg||Phosphorus||29 mg|
|Potassium||212 mg||Sodium||42 mg|
|Zinc||0.14 mg||Vitamin C||16 mg|
|Thiamin||0.046 mg||Riboflavin||0.034 mg|
|Niacin||0.593 mg||Vitamin B-6||0.060 mg|
|Folate||29 ug||Vitamin A||1496 IU|
Is tomato safe to be given to my baby?
Tomatoes are safe vegetables to be introduced into your baby’s diet. The right age to introduce them is about 8-10 months. In most cases, tomatoes do not cause allergic reactions, but to be on safer side, just look out for any rashes on your baby’s skin.
Health benefits of tomatoes for babies
Listed below are some of the health benefits of tomatoes for babies.
Good source of vitamin A: The red and orange color generally associated with tomatoes actually includes carotenoids such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. These carotenoids form vitamin A in the body. As we know, vitamin A is crucial for the development of eyes. (Bhowmik, 2012).
Great source of antioxidants: Apart from being a very good source of carotenoids, tomatoes are also a great source of antioxidants. These antioxidants are also very much essential in a baby’s diet apart from an adult’s diet. This is due to the fact that babies have a higher rate of metabolism when compared to adults. Metabolism increases the amount of free radicals, which can result in cellular and DNA damage. Only antioxidants can counteract with them and neutralize them to the extent possible. Thus, giving tomatoes to your baby regularly increases the amount of antioxidants. (Bhowmik, 2012).
Helps in building stronger bones: Tomatoes contain high amount of calcium and vitamin K. The amount of calcium and vitamin K contained in tomatoes makes it one of the able vegetables in strengthening bones. This particularly important in infants, who have weak bones that need to be strengthened over time. (Bhowmik, 2012).
Strengthens the immune system: The biochemicals found in tomato makes it an important vegetable that strengthens the immune system. Strengthening the immune system is very important, particularly in babies. The stronger the immune system, the lesser the baby falls ill. (Bhowmik, 2012).
Remedy for acidosis: Though, it is thought that tomatoes contain high amount of acids in them, in reality, tomatoes counteract with acids in the body resulting in increased alkalinity in the body. There is a high chance that babies may be suffering from acidosis. In such conditions, it is advised to give tomato juice to your baby for quick relief. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Reduces the risk of lead toxicity in children: Another reason for giving tomato to your baby can be to prevent lead toxicity. Although in developed countries such as the US, UK and Canada, the amount of lead in household products has been virtually removed, drastically reducing human exposure to lead, there can still be cases of lead toxicity from unusual sources. Tomatoes have high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin C is good at reducing lead toxicity in children. (Bhowmik, 2012).
Measures to be taken while giving tomatoes
Colour and texture of tomatoes: While tomatoes range from green, yellow, orange and bright red colours, the best ones are those which are mainly orange or red in color. They must also be firm, with no soft spots, cracks and holes.
How to store them? If you’re opting for orange or red colored tomatoes which are fully ripe, then you have store them in a refrigerator. If you’re opting for green or yellow colored tomatoes, then it is better to store them at room temperature, as they need to be ripened further. Cover them in papers and away from fruit flies.
While storing tomatoes in a refrigerator, please make sure that no moisture is retained around them. As soon as you buy tomatoes and reach home, let the tomatoes breathe. Leaving in the open for some time will reduce the moisture content and they are ready to be stored.