Humans don’t get all the benefit from raw tomatoes

April 23, 2009

Eating a raw tomato may not be the best way to release all its healthy antioxidants into the body.

Research by Plant & Food Research, in collaboration with Lincoln University, has shown that lycopene, an antioxidant found in high levels in tomatoes, is only released in small amounts when digested by humans.

Scientists used a model of the digestive tract, simulating the activity of the human stomach and small intestine, to measure the amount of lycopene and other released from tomatoes during typical digestive conditions. The study found that although around 75% of the total antioxidants were released, this included only 4% of the lycopene found in the raw tomato.

“Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene in the human diet, as well as containing other antioxidants essential for health,” says nutritional biochemist Carolyn Lister. “However, the human digestive tract is not able to release the majority of lycopene from raw tomatoes, so only a small amount would be made available for the body to use.

“Processing tomatoes has been shown to make lycopene more bioavailable, so as well as eating raw for their nutritional value, we should eat tomato sauces to get the goodness of the lycopene.”

Plant & Food Research’s Vital Vegetables® programme will continue to focus on increasing the supply of bioavailable lycopene to consumers, starting with high-lycopene tomato varieties.

The research is published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

Provided by Hortresearch

Explore further: Worried about prostate cancer? Tomato-broccoli combo shown to be effective

Related Stories

Unique tomatoes tops in disease-fighting antioxidants

February 27, 2007

Deep red tomatoes get their rich color from lycopene, a disease-fighting antioxidant. A new study, however, suggests that a special variety of orange-colored tomatoes provide a different form of lycopene, one that our bodies ...

Tomatoes found to fight sun damage

April 28, 2008

Tomatoes could be the new weapon in the fight against sun damage to the skin, research at the Universities of Newcastle and Manchester has revealed. According to a study presented at the British Society for Investigative ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
not rated yet Apr 23, 2009
Er... this is ancient news. If you want lycopene eat a can of tomato soup or 100g of puree per day. Amongst its effects it will lower BP by around 10/5 within a couple of weeks

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.