What's in tomatoes?
Not only are they wonderfully delicious, but they’re a great source of fibre, antioxidant vitamins A, C and the B group vitamins. They also contain vitamin E, potassium and other trace elements.
On top of all that goodness, tomatoes also contain many other antioxidants, the nutritional ‘good guys’ that help neutralise free radicals (the ‘bad guys’) which attack healthy cells throughout our body.
Of all the antioxidants found in tomatoes, lycopene is the most significant.
What exactly is Lycopene?
Lycopene is a carotenoid that’s known to have powerful antioxidant activity. Carotenoids are natural pigments and lycopene is the one responsible for the vivid red colour of tomatoes -- the redder the tomato, the higher the lycopene content.
Because our bodies can’t produce lycopene, we rely on certain foods to obtain it. Tomatoes are known to have the most concentrated amounts of lycopene, with smaller amounts also found in guava, watermelon, apricots and pink grapefruit.
Lycopene’s super-food qualities
Tomatoes and lycopene have been the subject of on-going scientific research in relation to their effect on people with certain health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and eye disease. There has been evidence of an association between tomato consumption and the reduced risk of some cancers, particularly prostate cancer.1 These benefits are thought to be partly related to lycopene’s high antioxidant activity.
Cooking and processing tomatoes increases the ability of the lycopene to be absorbed and increases the antioxidant activity of the tomatoes, compared with raw tomatoes.
A recommended daily intake for lycopene has not been officially set, but research shows that an intake of 5-10mg of lycopene per day is sufficient to maintain adequate lycopene levels and effectively fight free radicals.
This is great news for fans of many Wattie’s® products like our Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Tomato Soup, Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce and Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce.
Wattie’s products rich in lycopene
1. Kavanaugh C, Trumbo P, Ellwood K. The U.S Food and Drug Administration’s evidence-based review for qualified health claims: tomatoes, lycopene and cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007;99:1074-85.