Friday, February 19, 2010

Plant, buy, eat, consume CHERRY tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes appear to be the best form of tomato to eat. Have been doing some research around lycopene after my horrendous post about lycopene.As you would expect the amount of lycopene is very affected by plant breed. It also varies due to :
  • Climate. The tomatoes produced in climates that have hot dry summers and wet winters (Mediterranean) have more nutrients than those grown in climates that have snow during winter and rain in summer (continental). However using a green house or tunnel to grow tomatoes produces redder tomatoes but interestingly enough they don't have higher levels of lycopene or other fat soluble nutrients.
  • Nutrients increase as tomatoes ripen. Lycopene, phenolics, flavonids and vitamin C all increase during the ripening. 
  • Post picking green house tomatoes vitamin C levels decrease by 12% after 5 days storage in the dark

Consistently cherry tomatoes came out as being more beneficial in terms of lycopene and other nutrients/antioxidants. It is thought that is this because of the high surface area to volume ratio. In simple terms there is lots of skin for the sun to shine onto, it is thought that the sunlight increases the good stuff in the tomatoes. So the smaller the tomato there is more of the highly nutritious outer parts, than the less nutrient dense parts in the middle of the tomato. So make sure you plant, purchase and eat lots of cherry/small tomatoes

Now I should point out that we should have a range of tomato colors yellow, red, deep red, purple..... also consider - do you eat a whole big tomato in one sitting once you have taken a slice off it. Or in the same sitting would you only eat say one cherry tomato. Because a whole big tomato, due to its larger nature will have more overall nutrients than one small tomato. Hence you should eat cherry tomatoes by the handful, not in small amounts.    

Photo credit and References:
1) Kacjan Marsić N, Sircelj H, Kastelec D. Lipophilic antioxidants and some carpometric characteristics of fruits of ten processing tomato varieties, grown in different climatic conditions. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jan 13;58(1):390-7.
2) Jesús Periago M, García-Alonso J, Jacob K, Belén Olivares A, José Bernal M, Dolores Iniesta M, Martínez C, Ros G. Bioactive compounds, folates and antioxidant properties of tomatoes (Lycopersicum esculentum) during vine ripening. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Dec;60(8):694-708.
3) Molyneux SL, Lister CE, Savage GP. An investigation of the antioxidant properties and colour of glasshouse grown tomatoes. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2004 Nov;55(7):537-45.

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