Tomatoes are well used and loved throughout the world. They contain powerful phytonutrients that have made some refer to it as the wonder fruit! Keep reading to learn more about how canned tomatoes can boost health.
There’s a hype around canned tomatoes, and for good reason! Tomatoes are a “wonder fruit” that are filled with chronic disease fighting phytochemicals. It is no wonder why they have been a staple in many culture’s cuisines. Of course, canned tomatoes contain important nutrients like fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, but the phytochemicals are the real starts of the show!
Canned tomatoes boost health because they contain nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. However, there are additional compounds within fruits and vegetables that are called phytochemicals, which are non-nutritive compounds that have powerful antioxidant effects on the body. The two classes of phytochemicals found in tomatoes are carotenoids and polyphenols. The carotenoids include lycopene, phytoene, and beta carotene, and the polyphenols include flavonoids, flavanones, and flavones . The great thing about these phytochemicals is that their bioavailability can be increased with ripening or with cooking. One of the phytochemicals that has powerful health properties is lycopene. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that has shown to be helpful in the protection against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other disease and conditions related to aging . It also gives tomatoes their beautiful red color!
So how exactly does lycopene boost health? Diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease are caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced oxidative stress, which can damage the proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids within the body. Lycopene is a particularly potent antioxidant that can trap ROS and reduce the damage caused by it. In an uncooked tomato, the lycopene exists in a microcrystalline form that makes it difficult to be absorbed by the body . When we heat, or cook the tomatoes, the cell walls rupture and release the lycopene. Therefore, using canned tomatoes is a great way to boost the lycopene in your diet because they are already cooked!
Learn more about the benefits of lycopene with these resources:
- Chaudhary, P., Sharma, A., Singh, B., & Nagpal, A. K. (2018). Bioactivities of phytochemicals present in tomato. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 55(8), 2833–2849. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-018-3221-z