Tomatillos, sometimes known as Mexican pods mainly because of appearance, are native to Mexico. Before they ripen, light brown pods cover them but come off when they are ready for consumption. So, are tomatillos toxic or healthy? If toxic, then why? And if healthy, then what’s their nutritional value? Do they have any health benefits? This article seeks to answer all these questions, and give a verdict as to whether or not tomatillos are good for you.
Tomatillos are a rich source of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, and niacin. In addition, they contain vitamin C (20 percent), vitamin K (one percent), iron, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. Although tomatillos have more calories, protein, and fat per ounce than tomatoes, their extra fibers, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals make up for it.
A medium tomatillo only contains 11 calories, but they come with potassium (91 milligrams). Further, tomatillos have lutein and B-carotenes zeaxanthin, which have antioxidant properties that collaborate with vitamin A to prevent muscular degeneration and protect vision. Also, vitamin A helps to maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes while flavonoids inhibit cancer of the mouth and lungs.
Furthermore, tomatillos have been found to contain withanolides, which are naturally occurring phytochemicals. One such withanolide is Ixocarpalactone-A, a known antibacterial, and natural cancer fighter. Indian traditional healers prescribe foods with these compounds to treat arthritis as well as other musculoskeletal conditions, although many of them may not really know why it works. Modern science has established that it can fight inflammation and prevent the formation of tumors and veins that promote the growth of cancer.
Wild tomatillo, known as Physalis longifolia, has also been found to prevent cancer. This discovery was made when a team of three University of Kansas members traveled to South America on a bioprospection excursion. During their mission, they discovered a native plant with anti-cancer potential.
Benefits of Tomatillos
Below are some of the health benefits of tomatillos.
1. They Encourage Better Digestion
Tomatillos, being nightshade vegetables, are good sources of fiber. This means that when you eat them regularly, you boost your digestion. Tomatillos improve the production of enzymes and productive juices that help break down food to enable your intestines to access all their minerals and vitamins easily.
In addition, the fiber in tomatillos can help detoxify your body and prevent bloating, gas, and constipation. Also, fiber regulates carbohydrates’ release into your bloodstream, thus lowering blood sugar levels. This is very useful for those suffering from diabetes and needs to keep their glucose under control.
2. They Promote a Healthy Heart
You probably already know that fiber is good for your digestive system and also your cardiovascular system. It helps clean the arteries and prevent any dangers associated with clogged arteries. In other words, you reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack when you regularly eat tomatillos.
The presence of vitamin C in tomatillos is another good reason they’re good for the heart. This nutrient is a known antioxidant that helps in maintaining cholesterol levels in foods as opposed to the arteries.
3. They Strengthen Your Immune System
The presence of vitamin C in tomatillos makes them great immune boosters. Eating them regularly will reduce your risk of contracting upper respiratory infections. When the cold season sets in, tomatillos and other foods rich in vitamin C will keep you from catching flu and other infections during bad weather.
In addition, tomatillos increase the segregation of collagen. Collagen helps maintain cells and skin. It also maintains tissues that makeup blood vessels and the organs in good condition.
4. They Keep Eyes Healthy
The vitamins and beta-carotene in tomatillos help boost eye health. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and protects your eyes from damage, especially as a result of excess free radicals. According to eye experts, eating tomatillos and other foods rich in vitamin A will help keep your vision intact and reduce symptoms of any other eye disease.
5. They Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Like many other vegetables and fruits, tomatillos can help in the fight against cancer. These Mexican tomatoes, as they are commonly known, contain antioxidant phytochemicals that help in neutralizing free excess radicals in your body before they damage healthy cells and pave the way for cancer formation. According to science, the antioxidants found in tomatillos are particularly useful in preventing lung and mouth cancer.
6. They Accelerate Weight Loss
You shouldn’t miss tomatillos in your daily diet if you’re keen on losing those extra pounds. They are rich in fiber and nutrients, but low in calories. They help eliminate bad fats and make your muscles fat-free and stronger.
7. They Increase Energy
Tomatillos contain niacin that helps in the breakdown of complex molecules and food into energy reserves. Similarly, they contain potassium that helps the cardiovascular system. Potassium is also a known vasodilator and is responsible for the following.
- Relax blood vessels
- Improve oxygenation
- Reduce tension
- Promote circulation
Adding fiber content to these functions significantly reduces bad cholesterol levels. This helps prevent diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and arteriosclerosis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Tomatillos Acidic?
Raw, green tomatillos have a pH of 3.83, and therefore acidic. However, cooked ones aren’t. Red or purple tomatillos can be turned into jellies and jams as they’re sweeter than green ones.
Are Tomatillos Toxic?
Although some people claim they are, tomatillos aren’t toxic at all. They don’t have anything poisonous in them. You can simply remove their papery husk, wash the coating off, and eat them without any worries.
But remember tomatillos are acidic and contain fructose that can be harmful to your health. The best way would be to avoid overeating them. In addition, tomatillos stems and leaves are poisonous. So consider that before you eat raw tomatillos.
Are Tomatillos Spicy?
Tomatillos have a sweet, spicy flavor. Green ones have a lemon flavor that’s highly acidic, but ripe ones taste sweeter.
Tomatillos contain nutrients such as vitamins and minerals such as fiber, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, lutein, B-carotenes zeaxanthin, manganese, niacin, vitamins A, C, and K, and potassium. Most importantly, they contain withanolides. Further, researchers found 14 anti-cancer compounds in wild tomatillos. Subsequently, studies found compounds that are more powerful than chemotherapy in fighting cancer.