Organic tomatoes

Higher levels of healthy polyphenols were found in ketchups made from organically grown tomatoes than from conventional tomatoes, according to new research published in a recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The study, titled “A metabolomic approach differentiates between conventional and organic ketchups,” was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Barcelona and the findings suggest that the methods in which the tomatoes were grown play a key role in the bioactive compounds found in ketchup.

Looking at the biochemical and metabolomic analysis of several popular brands of ketchups, the researchers aimed to determine whether or not several factors in the tomatoes’ cultivation and fertilization affected the nutrient density of the ketchup. One finding was that the organic samples showed significantly more of the antioxidant containing polyphenols including flavonols, flavanones and phenolic acids than the conventional options.

Citing the cultivation techniques of organic growing, where no artificial or chemical nutrients are administered, could stimulate the tomato plants’ natural defenses, which increases the presence of the antioxidant polyphenols.

Ketchup that was made with conventional tomatoes showed more nitrogen compounds and was likely the reason that higher levels of nitrogen-rich biomolecules were detected.

Tomatoes are a rich source of a number of polyphenolic compounds including lycopene, a carotenoid that has been linked to a number of health benefits including a reduced risk of cancer. Lycopene has been shown to be more bioavailable in cooked tomato products, such as ketchup, rather than in the raw fruit.

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Image: Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden