Mariusz Rajczakowski
Nutritionist
6 min read | 5 months ago

Why you should eat tomato soup?

You might be thinking, how do processed tomato’s influence your wealthbeing, and what are it’s health benefits?

This article will adress those questions, but for now, let's get to know more about the tomato’s super health benefits

Tomato is a fruit!

Did you know that a tomato is a fruit? Botanically and scientifcally speaking it is a fruit of a tomato plant which belongs to Solanaceae family.

The word tomato” comes from Spanish „tomate”, which english „tomato” is derived from.

In other parts of the world it has been also known as italian „pomodoro”, polish „pomidor”, and german „paradeisapfel” (literally apple of paradise) or „tomaten” [1].

Mexican plump of paradise

The plant orginates in sunny Mexico, and it appeared in the Europe and other parts of the world on the XV or XVI-th century thanks to spanish colonisation of the Americas.

The average tomato weights approximately 100 grams. It is used for preparing salads, soups, sauces, drinks and also in a raw form.

Not many people know the health benefits like high content of the: vitamin A (833 U/100g), vitamin C (12,7mg/100g), potassium (237mg/100g) content, vitamin K (7.9 mcg/100g), it also contains a powerful nutrient - a lycopen [2].

The antioxidant superhero

The phenomenon of tomato’s is hidden in the red skin known as lycopene. It is a carotenoid (which gives the tomato it’s bright red colour), and a powerful antioxidant and found also in pink grapefruits, guavas and watermelons.

The greatest thing about lycopene is the fact that it absorbed better once tomato is processed [4].

tomato_soups

By processed, I don't mean just cutting it into slices in your sandwich, but also heating, mashing and adding vegetable oil.

Lycopene availability

You’ve probably been told that fruits and vegetables are supposed to be eaten raw. That is because heating and physical processing contributes to vitamin and mineral loss.

However this seems to be untrue in case of lycopene!

Now, without the headache you can cook, mash, cut, and add oil to it. You might wonder why add oil?

Lycopene belongs to carotenoids, and it is fat-soluble, this means that even a small amount of oil increases absorbtion significantly [4].

Fatty difference

tomato_face

Unlu et al has undertaken the study which showed adding an avocado [150g] (fat-rich vegetable) or avocado oil equivalent [24g] to salsa (300g servings in a test meal) increases absorbtion of a lycopene by 440% and a beta-carotene by 260% [4].

This figures don't lie. Even if you go with raw salad or a slice of tomato, remember add a bit of olive oil on top of it!

In raw tomatoes, lycopene is present in straight trans-form, which is not the greatest for an absorbtion, however heating and processing tomatoes changes it's chain into well-absorbed cis-form [5].

Let's start a tomato fiesta!

Armed with this knowledge you can consciously drink tomato juice (Bloody Marry is counting!), tomato soup, salsa souce, salads with tomatoes, ketchup and tomato purees to receive lycopene’s health benefits!

Remember that when you don't prepare those products by yourself the hidden sugar added by manufacture may do more harm. Hence, ensure that an ingredient list is short and tomatoes are first in the ingredient list.

Lycopene intake in the world

In United Stanes more than 80% of lycopene intake comes from tomato derived products such as ketchup, tomato juice, spaghetti and pizza sauce.

Dietary intake varies depending upon the population.

The average Italian, intakes is 7.4mg/day. The average intake of lycopen is U.S ranges from 6.6-10.5mg/day for men and from 5.7-10.4mg/day for women. In United Kingdom the average intake is much lower around 1.1mg/day, simarly in Spain 1.6mg/day and a bit better in France 4.8mg/day and 4.9mg/day in Netherlands [9].

Lycopene actions

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a well known factor in various human chronic diseases.

Lycopene antioxidant action has been suggested as potentially anticarcinogenic and preventing atherogenesis by protecting the molecules such as lipids, low density proteings (LDL), proteins and DNA.

Studies have shown that lycopene can trap singlet oxygen and quench it more effectively than a beta-carotene and alfa-tocopherol.

Oxidative modification of LDL is hypotehesized to be the strongest factor of atherogenesis which leads to cardiovascular disease [10].

Lycopene at physiological concentration can inhibit human cancer cell proliferation by interferring with growth factor receptors signaling and cell cycle progression specifcally in a prostate cancer cells without evidence of toxic effect or apoptosis of cells [6].

Lycopene and prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer worldwide among men [8].

Dietary intake of lycopene was associated with reduced risk of lethal prostate cancer and with lesser degree of angiogenesis in the tumor [15].

The most up-to date analysis showed that higher lycopene consumption was linearly associated with decreased risk of prostate cancer with a treshold between 9 and 21mg/day.

Higher serum lycopene level between 2.17 and 85 μg/dL was linearly associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer.

The concentration over 85 μg/dL did not present a linear association Further studies are needed to determine the actions of lycopene during cancerogenesis and support any stronger statements [9].

Lycopene, cardiovascular disease and stroke

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the number one killer in the World. There is a well established link between diet and risk of CVD, when dietary modification can significantly reduce risk and help with a disease management.

Some findings have shown an association between circulating (not dietary lycopene) and risk of stroke. According to the meta-analysis which included 116,127 participants, circulating lycopene reduces riske of stroke by 19.3% [11].

Ried and Fakler suggested that lycopene doses over 25mg daily is effective reduced LDL cholesterol by about 10% which has a similar effect of low doses of statins in patients with slightly elevated cholesterol levels [12].

Skin Health and sunburn

Tomato derived products may protect you against sunburns. Intake of the lycopene-rich products for 10-12 weeks resulted in reduced skin sensitivity against UV-induces erythema [13].

So the next time you prepare yourself for sunny holidays, you might think about a tomato-rich diet as well.

Stahl et al have shown that intake of 40g tomato paste with 10g olive oil, provided approximately 16mg of lycopene, taken everyday for 10 weeks decreased risk of sunburn by 40% [14].

tomato_big

Conclusions

Most of the lycopene we intake in our diet comes from tomato derived products. Its protective, antinflammatory and anticancer properties have been researched in many scientific studies.

Findings are promising, especially in a prostate cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease, but to make any stronger causal-result statements, more well designed studies on larger populations are required.

On the other hand, tomato derived products eaten more frequently, can definetely help you to cover daily requirements of potassium (which lowers blood pressure), beta-carotene, vitamin C and K.

When preparing yourself for a longer and sunny holidays, you might introduce tomato-rich diet, which can reduce the risk of sunburns similar to suncream.

References
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomato seen on 11.06.2016
  2. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2682/2 seen on 11.06.2016
  3. Baranska M., Schutze W., Schulz J., Determination of lycopene and beta-carotene content in tomato fruits and related products: Comparison of FT-Raman, ATR-IR, and NIR spectroscopy, Anal Chem. 2006 Dec 16; 78(24)
  4. Unlu N.Z., Bohn T., Clinton S.K., Schwartz S.J., Carotenoid absorbtion from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of acovado or avocado oil, J Nutr. 2005 Mar, 135(3), 431-6
  5. Stah W., Sies H., Uptake of lycopene and its geometrical isomers is greater from heat-processed that unprocessed tomato juice in humans. J Nutr. 1992 Nov, 122(11)
  6. Heber D., Lu Q.Y., Overview of mechanisms of action of lycopene, Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2002 Novl 227(10):920-3
  7. Chen P., Zhang W., Wang X., Zhao K., Singh Negi D., Zhuo Li., Qi M., Wang X., Zhang X., Lycopene and Risk of Prostate Cancer. A systematic review and meta-analysis; Medicine (Baltimore) 2015 Aug; 94(33)
  8. Holzapfel N.P., Holzapfel B. M., Champ S., Feldthusen J., Clements J., Hutmacher D.W., The Potential Role of Lycopene for the Prevention and Therapy of Prostate Cancer: From Molecuar Mechanisms to Clinical Evidence; Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Jul; 14(7)
  9. Story E.N., Kopec R.E., Schwartz S.J., Harris G.K., An update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene, Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2010; 1: 10
  10. Rao A.V., Agarwal S., Role of Antioxidant Lycopene in Cancer and Hearth Disease. J Ap Coll Nutr. 2000 Oct; 19(5) 563-9
  11. X Li., Xu J., Dietary and circulating lycopene and stroke risk: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sci Rep. 2014 May 22; 4
  12. Ried K., Fakler P., Protective effect of lycopene on serum cholesterol and blood pressure: Meta analysis of intervention trials. Maturitas 2011 Apr; 68(4) 299-310
  13. Stahl W., Heinrich U., Aust O., Tronnier H., Sies H., Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Feb; 5(2) 238-42
  14. Stahl W., Heinrich U., Wiseman S., Eichler O., Sies H., Tronnier H., Dietary tomato paste protects against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans. J Nutr. 2001 May; 131(5) 1449-1451
  15. Zu K., Mucci L., Rosner B., Clinton S.K., Loda M., Stampfer M.J., Giovannucci E., Dietary Lycopene, Angiogenesis, and Prostate Cancer: A Prospective Study in the Prostate-Specific Antigen Era., J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Feb; 106(2)

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