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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nutrient Content of Tomatoes and Tomato Products

Author
item Beecher, Gary

Submitted to: Society Of Experimental Biological Medicine Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: During the last half-century, the fruit of the cultivated tomato, commonly considered a vegetable, has become a popular and highly consumed food in the United States. Production of tomatoes in the U.S. ranks second only to potatoes. As a consequence, tomatoes and tomato-based foods provide a convenient matrix by which nutrients and other health related food components can be supplied to human beings. Tomatoes and tomato products are rich sources of folate, vitamin C and potassium. Relative to phytonutrients, the most abundant in tomatoes are the carotenoids. Lycopene is the most prominent carotenoid followed beta-carotene, gamma-carotene and phytoene as well as several minor carotenoids. The antioxidant activity of lycopene as well as several other carotenoids and their abundance in tomatoes makes these foods rich sources of antioxidant activity. The provitamin A activity of beta- and gamma-carotene, their modest levels in tomato products and the high consumption of these foods results in a rich supply of vitamin A activity from tomato-based foods. Tomatoes also contain several other components which are beneficial to health including vitamin E, trace elements, flavonoids, phytosterols and several water soluble vitamins. These data expand our knowledge of the levels of carotenoids in tomatoes and will permit further evaluation of the role of phytonutrients in human health.

Technical Abstract: During the last half-century, the fruit of the cultivated tomato (Lycopersium esculentum), commonly considered a vegetable, has become a popular and highly consumed food in the United States. Production of tomatoes in the U.S. ranks second only to potatoes. As a consequence, tomatoes and tomato-based foods provide a convenient matrix by which nutrients and other health related food components can be supplied to human beings. Tomatoes and tomato products are rich sources of folate, vitamin C and potassium. Relative to phytonutrients, the most abundant in tomatoes are the carotenoids. Lycopene is the most prominent carotenoid followed beta-carotene, gamma-carotene and phytoene as well as several minor carotenoids. The antioxidant activity of lycopene as well as several other carotenoids and their abundance in tomatoes makes these foods rich sources of antioxidant activity. The provitamin A activity of beta- and gamma-carotene, their modest levels in tomato products and the high consumption of these foods results in a rich supply of vitamin A activity from tomato-based foods. Tomatoes also contain several other components which are beneficial to health including vitamin E, trace elements, flavonoids, phytosterols and several water soluble vitamins. These data expand our knowledge of the levels of carotenoids in tomatoes and will premit further evaluation of the role of phutonutrients in human health.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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