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Tomatillos Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Tomatillos?

Tomatillo, also known as tomate, is a small spherical shaped berry in the tomato family of fruits. Tomate, chiefly employed as a vegetable. They are native to Mexico and are small delicious vegetables from the nightshade family. Although they resemble tomatoes (both in appearance and in name), they are actually related more closely to cape gooseberries.
Their scientific name is Physalis philadelphica and are a staple in a number of cuisines in Central and South America. Despite the fact that its closest nutritional match is not actually a tomato, the common names for this plant’s fruit are Mexican tomato, husk tomato, or husk cherry. As the plant grows, it develops a light brown husk that will eventually break off when the tomatillo is ripe or ready to be picked. The ideal color and texture of the tomatillo should be bright green and rather firm.

Health Benefits of Tomatillos

Some of the health benefits of tomatillos include its ability to reduce the chances of diabetes, increase the health of your digestive system, boost the immune system, increase cellular growth, increase energy levels, prevent certain types of cancer, improve vision health, lower blood pressure, and can help in weight loss efforts.

Weight Loss Efforts: Tomatillos are one of those preferred vegetables for people who are trying to lose weight. High-nutrient, low-calorie, and low-fat vegetables with high fiber content, like tomatillos, help people to feel full, acquire the necessary nutrients on a daily basis, and reduce the chances of overeating, because they feel satiated. Tomatillos are ideal if you are trying to reduce obesity for a healthier lifestyle.

Cancer Prevention: Tomatillos contain unique antioxidant phytochemicals called withanolides, which have been directly linked to anti-cancer and antibacterial functions. Antioxidants help to combat the effects of free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular reproduction that can kill or mutate healthy cells and turn them into cancerous cells.  Furthermore, the vitamin A, vitamin C, and flavonoids within tomatillos provide other cancer-protective effects, particularly in terms of lung and oral cancers.

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Digestive Health: Most vegetables possess a high level of dietary fiber, and tomatillos are no exception. This means that they are very good for digestive health, as fiber can help add bulk to foods and speed their transit through the digestive tract, thereby eliminating constipation, excess gas, bloating, cramping, and even more serious conditions like colon cancer and gastric ulcers. Furthermore, fiber is very good at regulating the release of carbohydrates (simple sugars) into the bloodstream, thereby regulating blood sugar levels, which is important for people suffering from diabetes, who need to strictly control their glucose and insulin levels.

Energy Levels: Niacin is a member of the B-family of vitamins that is often overlooked in human health. Niacin is a key element in the enzymatic processes that break down food and complex molecules into usable energy for the body. by increasing the availability of this energy and making the process more efficient, the niacin found in tomatillos can give you a sustainable boost of energy throughout your day.

Blood Pressure and Heart Health: The positive ratio of potassium:sodium in tomatillos means that your blood pressure can be reduced. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes blood vessels, reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system, and promotes circulation and oxygenation to vital areas of the body. Furthermore, when combined with a high fiber content, which can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels, tomatillos can promote heart health by reducing the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

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Immune System Health: The vitamin C found in tomatillos can help to boost the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells, the body’s primary line of defense against foreign agents and pathogens. Vitamin C is also a key component of collagen production, which supports the health and creation of skin tissue, as well as the cells and tissues that make up our organs and blood vessels, increasing the body’s sustainability and metabolic functions.

Vision Health: Vitamin A has long been connected to the health of our vision. Tomatillos also contain beta carotene, a derivative of vitamin A, that functions as an antioxidant and prevents macular degeneration, cataracts, and other conditions that can affect the health of our eyes.

Uses of Tomatillos

These green gems called Tomatillos can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour! It’s dip is a perfect spread to take sandwiches to the next level and a must for enchiladas.
They can give a standard plate of huevos rancheros a delicious facelift, add huge flavor to soup and transform a pork tenderloin.

Raw – Raw or uncooked tomatillos are often in Mexican sauces.  They add a fresh citrus-like flavor.

Dry Roasting – This will produce an earthy, nutty flavor.  Place the tomatillos in a heavy fry pan (preferably a cast iron pan).  Turn heat to low and roast for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Blanching – Blanching mellows the flavor.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the whole tomatillos (husks removed and rinsed) and boil for approximately 5 minutes or until soft.  Drain and crush or puree as directed in your recipe.

Fire Roasting – Roast under the broiler, with a propane torch, or over an open flame such as a grill.  Make sure the heat is quite hot before roasting.  If the heat is not hot enough, the tomatillos wil turn mushy before being charred.  The charred or slightly blackened skins will enrich your sauces with a smoky flavor.

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Nutritional Value of Tomatillos

Tomatillos are low in calories. 100 g of berries provide just 32 calories. For comparison, they hold slightly higher calories, fat, and protein than tomatoes. (100 g tomato just has 18 calories). However, they have good amounts of health benefiting plant nutrients such as dietary fiber, minerals, anti-oxidants and vitamins.

Unlike tomato, tomatillo does not carry lycopene. On the other hand, it is good in different kind of antioxidant phyto-chemicals known as withanolides. Ixocarpalactone-A is one such withanolides present in tomatillo which has been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties.

Tomatillo contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Further; the berry consists of flavonoid anti-oxidants such as ß-carotene, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds possess antioxidant properties and, together with vitamin A, are essential for visual health. In addition, Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Fresh tomate is one of the vegetables that has the least sodium to potassium ratio (0:6). Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Further, the fruit has more minerals weight per weight basis than that in the tomatoes. They are also good source of copper, iron, phosphorous, manganese, and other minerals.