Growing Tomatoes: Choosing the Healthiest Varieties for your Home Garden

March 13, 2014

There are many choices when growing tomatoes

Color, flavor, size, yield and nutritional factors should be evaluated when choosing tomato varieties.  Here we will discuss a study which helps us find the healthiest tomatoes!


Which Tomato is for Me?

Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops grown in backyards across the United States–and for good reason. Tomato plants are great yielders, packed with tons of vitamins, taste great off the vine, and really grow well in California and the South Bay Area. Organic home gardening allows you to grow and enjoy your favorite vegetable varieties based on their rich flavors, magnificent colors, and true nutritional value. The vegetables produced to be sold in stores, specifically tomatoes, are often chosen based predominantly on shipping factors: how tough is the skin / how well will the green tomato ripen to red en route to the supermarket. We feel individual vegetable nutrients are not discussed enough and found a quick guide provided by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds that will give you the upper hand in deciding which are the healthiest tomatoes for you and your family this summer.

If you haven’t looked through a Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalogue in a while, things have changed. They have always had a good variety and great seeds, but this catalogue is ridiculous showcasing at least two pages dedicated to each categorized color of tomato: green, orange, pink, purple/brown/black, red, striped/bi-color, white, & yellow! I was overwhelmed with all of the varieties with names like Hartman’s Yellow Gooseberry, Turkish Striped Monastery, the Michael Pollan, and Isis Candy Cherry, it made me want to buy them all! Fortunately for all of us, the people from Baker Creek analyzed their most popular tomato varieties specifically for nutritional value. This definitely helped us choose which seeds to start this year and hopefully it will be helpful to you too!

Here are the results:

Factoring in Brix levels, Lycopene, Potassium, Acidity, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Chlorophyl, they ranked ten popular varieties in order of overall nutritional value.

(in order of overall nutritional value)

  1. Black Krim
  2. Black Icicle
  3. Cherokee Purple
  4. Indigo Apple
  5. Blush
  6. Jubilee Orange
  7. Pink Brandywine
  8. Michael Pollan
  9. Cherokee Green
  10. Vine Ripe Hybrid


As you can see, the top 4 tomatoes on this list come from the purple/brown/black colored varieties and it just so happens that my favorite tasting and most recommended tomato is also best for you! Black Krim tomatoes have the most Vitamin A out of all tomato varieties tested for this study with one cup containing over 25% of your overall daily intake. It also has 27 mg of vitamin C (~30%) and around 10% of your recommended daily intake of potassium.

The only red variety tested rounded out the list at number 10. If nothing else, this list shows that you should think outside the reds and experiment with some other colors, shapes and sizes.

Author’s takeaway:  I will be looking closer at acidity levels going forward to see if there are any varieties lower in acid, higher in vitamins still producing delicious and interesting  flavors!