Eating tomatoes regularly is good for your health as well as your palate. Most of the nutritional interest in the tomato has been because it contains the antioxidant lycopene .
Now scientists belonging to the the University of Barcelona’s Natural Antioxidant Group in Spain have shown that organically grown tomatoes contain more antioxidants than tomatoes grown on conventional farms. These antioxidants are known as polyphenols. Natural polyphenols give fruits and vegetables their characteristic colors. They are also said to have powerful health benefits by acting as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
The researchers undertook the studies on a tomatoes variety called Daniela purchased in in the market and found 34 polyphenolic compounds . The same group has previously published results showing that organic tomato juice and ketchup contain higher polyphenols than juice and ketchup made from conventionally grown tomatoes.
The difference in polyphenol content is due to the different fertilizers and pesticides used in the two types of farming methods. In conventional farms inorganic fertilizers and pesticides are used where the plants grow very fast and all pests are attempted to be destroyed. Organic famers use manure, compost and other natural products and practices to provide nutrients and protection. The disadvantage in the latter method is that plants are not protected from all pests. But this forces the plants to increase their own defense mechanism thereby producing more polyphenols.
Polyphenols continue to be of great nutritional interest. They have been reported in the scientific literature as having antimicrobial, antiviral, and anticarcinogenic properties. Polyphenols are also thought to improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention and concentration. However, when ingested in the human body polyphenols, unlike in controlled laboratory tube conditions, are poorly conserved and mostly excreted quickly.
Reference: Anna Vallverdú-Queralt, Olga Jáuregui, Alexander Medina-Remón, Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventós. Evaluation of a Method To Characterize the Phenolic Profile of Organic and Conventional Tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2012; 60 (13): 3373 DOI: 10.1021/jf204702f