Who doesn’t know tomatoes, this red round one? But is tomato a vegetable or a fruit? It looks like a fruit, but it is often cooked into a vegetable.

This tomato is a plant from the Solanaceae family. When viewed from botanical science, fruit is a product that grows from flowering plants. Fruit is usually covering and protecting a seed. Fruit is a product that develops from a fertilized ovary in a flower. Whereas vegetables are the edible parts of a plant such as leaves, roots, stems, and flowers. (Pupp R, 2015). Indeed, there are several types of fruit that are generally considered vegetables, such as eggplant, okra, and tomato (Kelly L, 2014).

Tomatoes are red, this is due to the pigments they contain. Tomatoes contain carotenoid pigments, especially lycopene and beta carotene (Novita et al, 2015). The lycopene contained in tomatoes is an antioxidant that can remove free radicals that can damage DNA and other fragile cell structures. A prospective cohort study shows that consumption of foods rich in lycopene can reduce the risk of breast cancer (Cui et al, 2018). Epidemiological studies show that people who consume more lycopene have a lower risk of developing lung cancer than people who consume less lycopene (Yuan et al, 2003). Several clinical trials showed that lycopene can reduce cholesterol synthesis and increase the degradation of low-density protein (LDL) (Arab and Steck, 2000). However, it is unclear whether the reduced risk of some of the diseases produced by these epidemiological studies and short-term prospective studies comes from the whole tomato fruit or lycopene alone (Giovannucci, 2005). Therefore, it is necessary to do further research with a human clinical trial.

Bioavailability or bioavailability is the proportion of nutrients that can be digested, absorbed, and that can be used by the body. The heating process is found to increase the bioavailability of lycopene by destroying the cell membrane, so that lycopene can get out of the matrix tissue. Many studies have shown that heat-processed lycopene has a higher bioavailability compared to lycopene from fresh tomatoes (Allen et al, 2002). One way to heat tomatoes is to make edible Bolognese sauce with a variety of pastas. So, now, hopefully you won’t be confused anymore, because tomatoes are fruit, my friends. Some people like tomatoes, but others don’t. For those who don’t like it but still want to eat tomatoes to get the benefits, Bolognese sauce can be a solution served with pasta. Yummy ~

Contributor: Nur Rahma Utami 4th semester student of Bachelor of Nutrition, FKM UI


Allen CM, Smith AM, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ.2002.Tomato consumption increases lycopene isomer concentrations in breast milk and plasma of lactating women.J Am Diet Assoc ;102(9):1257–62.

Arab L, Steck S. 2000.  Lycopene and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 71(6):1691S–95S

Cui Y, Shikany JM, Liu S, Shagufta Y, Rohan TE.2008. Selected antioxidants and risk of hormone receptor-defined invasive breast cancers among postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Observational Study. Am J Clin Nutrition 87(4):1009–18.

Giovannucci E. 2005.  Tomato products, lycopene, and prostate cancer: a review of the epidemiological literature.Journal of Nutrition;135(8):2030S–31S.

Kelly, L. 2014. What is A Fruit?. New York Botanical Garden : Bronx

Novita, M., Satriana, H. Etria. 2015. Kandungan likopen dan karotenoid buah tomat (Lycopersicum pyriforme) pada berbagai tingkat kematangan: pengaruh pelapisan dengan kitosan dan penyimpanan. Jurnal Teknologi dan Industri Pertanian Indonesia. 7(1): 35-39

Pupp, R. 2015. Is a Tomato a Fruit? It Depends on How You Slice It.National Geographic

Yuan JM, Stram DO, Arakawa K, Lee H, Yu MC. 2003. Dietary cryptoxanthin and reduced risk of lung cancer: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 12(9):890–98.

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