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6 Lesser Known Health Benefits Of Tomatillos, Nutrition & Recipe

| Reviewed By Dr. Karthika Thirugnanam

Scientifically termed as Physalis philadelphica, tomatillos are often confused with tomatoes despite the difference between fruits/vegetables. Tomatillos are commonly termed as Mexican tomato, husk tomato, or husk cherry and are bright green in colour. The fruits of tomatillos are covered in a brown husk, which breaks off from the fruit when it ripens [1] .

Tomatillos are the main ingredient in the Mexican cuisine, where the green tomato look-alikes are used to prepare sauces, jams, preserves, and are also streamed, fried, broiled and so on. Basically, the culinary applications of tomatillos are never-ending[2] .

From promoting digestion to potentially treating mumps and cold, the health benefits possessed by the fruit is plenty. It is also beneficial in lowering high blood pressure levels and can aid the weight loss process. Read on to know more about the fruit and how you can benefit from it.

Nutritional Value In Tomatillos

100 grams of the fruit contains 32 calories of energy, 1 g protein, 0.62 mg iron, 4 g sugar and 1 g total lipid [3] .

The remaining nutrients present in 100 grams of tomatillos are as follows:

  • Carbohydrate 5.84 g
  • Fibre 2 g
  • Water 92 g
  • Calcium 7 mg
  • Magnesium 20 mg
  • Phosphorus 39 mg
  • Potassium 268 mg
  • Sodium 1 mg

Health Benefits Of Tomatillos

1. Improve digestion

Containing large amounts of dietary fibre, tomatillos are exceptionally good for your digestive health. Tomatillos add bulk to foods, thereby speeding up the process of digestion and easing the movement of food through the digestive tract [4] . They also help alleviate constipation, gas, bloating and even help prevent gastric ulcers.

2. Boost immune system

Packed with vitamin C, tomatillos are beneficial for improving your immune system [5] . This helps stimulate the production of white blood cells - the defence system of your body. This, in turn, helps fight off pathogens and external pollutants which cause diseases [6] .

3. Prevents cancer

According to a study conducted on exploring the antioxidant properties of tomatillos, tomatillos contain unique phytochemicals called withanolides that can help prevent the onset of cancer. The antioxidants work by warding off the free radicals, thereby protecting the healthy cells from being destroyed [7] .

4. Improve eyesight

Tomatillos contain beta-carotene, which plays a central role in improving vision. Regular consumption of tomatillos can help prevent macular degeneration, cataracts and other age-related conditions that can affect your vision [8] .

5. Aid weight loss

High in nutrient-density and low in calorie-density, the tomato look-alikes make you feel full due to the high content of fibre in it. So, if you are looking forward to losing some weight, tomatillos are the right addition to your eating plan [5] .

Tomato Seeds: Benefits And Side Effects

6. Treat cold

As aforementioned, tomatillos have a high vitamin C content which means it can act as a protective layer for your body. By improving your immune system, tomatillo help protect you from fever, cold and flu and also prevent the onset of any infections.

Apart from these, tomatillos are also known to help treat asthma, improve heart health, treat ringworms and mumps, as well as help treat strep throat[6] .

Healthy Recipes Of Tomatillo

1. Fresh tomatillo salad

Ingredients[7]

  • 12 medium tomatillos
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper,
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper to taste

Directions

  • Halve the tomatillos, then thinly slice and place in a large bowl.
  • Combine cilantro, oil, lime juice and crushed red pepper in a small bowl and stir to blend.
  • Add tomatoes and toss.
  • Add the tomatillos and season with salt and pepper.
  • Marinate in the room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Precaution

  • If you have arthritis (inflammation of the joints), avoid consuming tomatillos.
  • It may cause allergic reactions [8] .
  • It can also cause eye itchiness, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and runny nose [9] .

15 Interesting Benefits Of Tamarillo For Health, Hair & Skin

Infographics by Sharan Jayanth

View Article References
  1. [1] Skinner, M., & Hunter, D. (Eds.). (2013).Bioactives in fruit: health benefits and functional foods. John Wiley & Sons.
  2. [2] Calvo, L., & Esquibel, C. R. (2016).Decolonize your diet: Plant-based Mexican-American recipes for health and healing. arsenal pulp press.
  3. [3] Cárdenas-Castro, A. P., del Carmen Perales-Vázquez, G., Laura, A., Zamora-Gasga, V. M., Ruiz-Valdiviezo, V. M., Alvarez-Parrilla, E., & Sáyago-Ayerdi, S. G. (2019). Sauces: An undiscovered healthy complement in Mexican cuisine.International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 100154.
  4. [4] Morales-Contreras, B. E., Rosas-Flores, W., Contreras-Esquivel, J. C., Wicker, L., & Morales-Castro, J. (2018). Pectin from Husk Tomato (Physalis ixocarpa Brot.): Rheological behaviour at different extraction conditions. Carbohydrate polymers,179, 282-289.
  5. [5] Valdivia-Mares, L. E., Zaragoza, F. A. R., González, J. J. S., & Vargas-Ponce, O. (2016). Phenology, agronomic and nutritional potential of three wild husk tomato species (Physalis, Solanaceae) from Mexico.Scientia horticulturae,200, 83-94.
  6. [6] Robledo-Torres, V., Ramírez-Godina, F., Foroughbakhch-Pournavab, R., Benavides-Mendoza, A., Hernández-Guzmán, G., & Reyes-Valdés, M. H. (2011). Development of tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa Brot.) autotetraploids and their chromosome and phenotypic characterization. Breeding Science, 61(3), 288-293.
  7. [7] Zheng, M., Guo, J., Xu, J., Yang, K., Tang, R., Gu, X., ... & Chen, L. (2019). Ixocarpalactone A from dietary tomatillo inhibits pancreatic cancer growth by targeting PHGDH.Food & function.
  8. [8] Guruvayoorappan, C., Sakthivel, K. M., Padmavathi, G., Bakliwal, V., Monisha, J., & Kunnumakkara, A. B. (2015). Cancer Preventive and Therapeutic Properties of Fruits and Vegetables: An Overview. InANTICANCER PROPERTIES OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: A Scientific Review(pp. 1-52).
  9. [9] Eatingwell. (2015, July). Tomatillo recipes [Blog post]. Retrieved from, http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/251215/tomatillo-breakfast-tacos/
Karthika ThirugnanamClinical Nutritionist and Dietitian
MS, RDN (USA)
Karthika Thirugnanam

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