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Is tangerine the top lycopene tomato?


March 19, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

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Research involving tomato sauce
made from the heirloom tomato variety tangerine has established that a
specific chemical form of lycopene is more effective in increasing the
levels of this much-heralded antioxidant in people’s blood.

Research involving tomato sauce made from the heirloom tomato variety tangerine has established that a specific chemical form of lycopene is more effective in increasing the levels of this much-heralded antioxidant in people’s blood. Ohio State University’s Steven J. Schwartz points out that many deeply coloured vegetables and fruits are rich in lycopene, a carotenoid linked to health benefits. However, according to a report published by Schwartz in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, not all of the lycopene is bioavailable  – able to be absorbed into the blood after consumption. Red tomatoes, for instance, are very rich in lycopene, but it is the so-called trans isomer, a chemical form different from the cis isomer, that people absorb more efficiently into the body. In their experiments, researchers fed volunteers tomato sauce made from tangerine tomatoes, which are a bright orange colour and contain more of the cis lycopene isomer. Volunteers also ate tomato sauce made from a different tomato variety especially rich in another carotenoid, beta-carotene. Volunteers absorbed large amounts of both carotenoids. The researchers concluded that tomato sauce and other tomato products made from such varieties of tomatoes could provide a way to increase the bioavailability of carotenoids in the diet.

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