Cherry tomatoes, which are renowned for their nutritional value and use in cuisines worldwide, are a variety of tomato believed to have originated in South and Central America.
These small, juicy fruits burst with color and flavor. Though many varieties are red, they also come in shades of orange, yellow, purple, and green.
The most notable difference between cherry tomatoes and other tomatoes is their size — they can be as small as a penny or as large as a golf ball in diameter.
This article takes a comprehensive look at cherry tomatoes and their health benefits.
Tomatoes of all types are incredibly nutrient-dense, boasting vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, carotenoid antioxidants, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds (
Cherry tomatoes are no different. Just 1/2 cup (114 grams) of whole cherry tomatoes contains (
- Calories: 31
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 5 grams
- Sodium: 144 mg
- Vitamin A: 86% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 14% of the DV
- Iron: 8% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Calcium: 3% of the DV
They’re a decent source of fiber, particularly when the skin is left on, providing about 7% of the DV. In fact, because cherry tomatoes are high in fiber and low in calories, they may aid weight loss by helping you stay full and hydrated (
Rich in micronutrients
Tomatoes tend to be a great source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the B vitamin folate (
In particular, cherry tomatoes are rich in the minerals calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. They’re also high in carotenoids, a type of antioxidant found in red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables (
The most notable carotenoids in cherry tomatoes are:
- Lycopene. This compound gives tomatoes their deep red hue and may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Test-tube research also suggests anticancer effects, though more studies are needed (
15, 16, 17).
- Beta carotene. Your body can convert this antioxidant into vitamin A. Beta carotene may also protect against heart disease and cancer, though further research is necessary (
- Lutein. This antioxidant is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties that protect eye function and brain health (
The amount of carotenoids and other nutrients in cherry tomatoes varies. For example, purple cherry tomatoes tend to pack higher amounts of anthocyanins and phenolic compounds, while orange varieties are high in beta carotene but lower in lycopene (
How cherry tomatoes compare with other varieties
Tomatoes of all types are nutritious. Most contain similar proportions of nutrients such as water, sugars, and protein (
Still, cherry tomatoes are notable for their higher concentration of antioxidants such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds (
Nevertheless, other tomato varieties have health perks too. Some types of purple tomatoes may boast more carotenoids than red cherry tomatoes (
Keep in mind that, as with most produce, the nutritional content of tomatoes varies significantly depending on their growing, processing, and storage conditions and even when they were picked (
Therefore, eating a wide range of tomatoes may be the best way to maximize your nutrient intake.
Cherry tomatoes are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and carotenoid antioxidants such as lutein, lycopene, and beta carotene.
Cherry tomatoes are a nutritious addition to your diet and have several specific health benefits.
Compounds in cherry tomatoes may fight oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in your body that may be partially responsible for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart and kidney disease (
Two nutrients in cherry tomatoes that play a particularly large role in fighting disease are naringin and naringenin. These flavonoids may be effective because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature (
May improve heart health
Plant compounds in cherry tomatoes may fight heart disease by protecting the endothelial cells that line blood vessel walls. They also prevent the clumping of platelets in your blood, which may eventually lead to blood clots and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke (
Plus, lycopene may affect how your body digests cholesterol and stores fat, both of which are highly related to heart health (
Low blood levels of lycopene have even been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. One study in more than 1,000 men found that those with the highest blood levels of this compound were 55% less likely to have a stroke (
Moreover, chlorogenic acid in cherry tomatoes may influence fat metabolism, and studies have found that regularly eating foods rich in phenolic acid may help lower blood pressure (
Lastly, eating more potassium-containing foods, such as cherry tomatoes, may reduce blood pressure and heart disease risk. This is especially true when you replace high sodium foods with potassium-rich ones (
May boast anticancer properties
Cherry tomatoes may offer anticancer properties, particularly against breast and prostate cancers (
A 2013 research review associated a high intake of raw or cooked tomatoes with a modest decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer (
Also, a 2012 review suggested a link between higher blood levels of beta carotene — one of the main carotenoids in cherry tomatoes — and a lower risk of breast cancer (
Still, more research is needed.
May promote skin health
As you age, ultraviolet (UV) light may cause dry skin, wrinkles, discoloration, and other skin effects (
Foods that contain carotenoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants — as cherry tomatoes do — may help protect against the harmful effects of UV light by moisturizing your skin and regulating signaling pathways, as well as via other mechanisms (
Once again, the primary carotenoids in cherry tomatoes, lycopene and beta carotene, appear to play a major role (
Cherry tomatoes may protect heart health, lower your risk of certain diseases, and support healthy skin.
Certain populations may need to use caution when eating cherry tomatoes (
May cause allergic reactions
Though uncommon, an allergy to cherry tomatoes — or tomatoes of any kind — is possible (
A tomato allergy may cause symptoms such as skin rashes, itching, sneezing, stomach pains, or even anaphylaxis (a closing of your airways) in very severe cases.
People with allergies to grasses, pollen, or latex may be more likely to have a tomato allergy (
May cause acid reflux
Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are each the result of chronic acid reflux — a weakening of the muscles in the esophagus that prevent acid from moving backward from the stomach up into the esophagus.
Acidic foods such as cherry tomatoes may worsen acid reflux and its symptoms (
Therefore, people with GERD or severe acid reflux may need to avoid cherry tomatoes or limit their cherry tomato intake.
May be contaminated with Salmonella
Like many other types of produce, cherry tomatoes may become contaminated with Salmonella during processing or distribution (
Salmonella is a harmful bacterium that may cause food poisoning, with symptoms including fever and stomach pain (
Young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems tend to have the greatest risk of severe illness from Salmonella.
Carefully rinsing cherry tomatoes and all fresh produce with water before eating is one of the best ways to prevent any type of foodborne illness.
Although cherry tomatoes have very few side effects, they may worsen acid reflux. In rare cases, they may also lead to allergic reactions or food poisoning.
Cherry tomatoes are delicious both raw and cooked. Plus, they’re easy to grow at home and are often available at grocery stores and farmers markets.
Recipe ideas for raw cherry tomatoes
You can use raw cherry tomatoes in a variety of dishes, including:
- salads or lettuce cups
- sandwiches and wraps
- grilled skewers and kebabs
- pasta salads
- fresh pico de gallo
- tacos (for topping)
- caprese salads
- yogurt (for topping)
- cottage cheese (for topping)
- charcuterie boards
Recipe ideas for cooked cherry tomatoes
Bringing out the flavor of cherry tomatoes is as simple as roasting them in the oven, grilling them, or sauteing them on the stovetop. Try cherry tomatoes in the following dishes:
- tomato sauces
- pasta dishes
- rice pilafs
- chicken and fish dishes
- bruschetta or toast
- pizza (as a topping)
- soups and stews
Last but not least, cherry tomatoes can be juiced. Just remember that juicing reduces the fiber and pulp content of fresh produce.
How cooking affects nutrition
It’s important to know that certain cooking methods may affect cherry tomatoes’ nutrient content.
For starters, the skin is where many of this fruit’s micronutrients are concentrated. Thus, tomatoes with the skin on may be more nutritious than peeled tomatoes (
Similarly, drying and preserving cherry tomatoes may affect their concentration of antioxidants and phenolic compounds (
Interestingly, cooking them may increase the bioavailability — the amount that your body absorbs — of lycopene, naringenin, and chlorogenic acid while decreasing the concentration of beta carotene and lutein (
Still, these changes depend on how the tomatoes are cooked and for how long. Thus, eating cherry tomatoes in a variety of ways may be beneficial.
You can eat cherry tomatoes both cooked and raw. They’re particularly popular in soups, salads, pizzas, and tomato sauce.
Cherry tomatoes are a small but nutrient-dense fruit that are great for snacks, salads, pastas, and more.
Compared with other types of tomatoes, they’re particularly rich in antioxidants, which may help protect against cancer, heart disease, and skin damage.
Some people might need to avoid cherry tomatoes as a result of allergies or acid reflux. Otherwise, eating these fruits — or tomatoes of any type — is a great way to take advantage of their disease-fighting benefits.
Just one thing
Try this today: Cherry tomatoes are convenient and full of flavor, not to mention incredibly nutritious — but you may want to try other unique tomato varieties. Here are 7 of the most popular types of tomatoes and how to use them.