Conventional Tomatoes Lose

Tomiko Peirano

Tomiko Peirano › Tomiko has amassed decades of experience in the food industry, from her family's restaurant in Oregon's ...

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There have been some supremely juicy tomatoes showing up in the farmers markets around NYC lately. Sweet and verdant-tasting, a truly GOOD tomato is one of the best signs that summer has begun.

Just in time for the bulk of tomato season, a new study from the University of Barcelona shows that organically grown tomatoes contain higher levels of phenolic compounds than conventionally grown.

Science Daily states, in a recent article:

Polyphenols – natural antioxidants of plant origin – are considered to be of great nutritional interest because its consumption is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer.

This latest study was inspired in part by an earlier study conducted by the same team at UB, which determined that organic tomato products, namely juice and ketchup, contained higher levels of polyphenol content than their conventional counterparts. The research team decided it was necessary to understand if the higher phenolic numbers were coming from the tomatoes themselves, rather than the production process.

It would seem the root of difference lies in the difference between organic and conventional farming techniques:

Differences between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used in both cases. "Organic farming doesn't use nitrogenous fertilizers; as a result, plants respond by activating their own defense mechanisms, increasing the levels of all antioxidants," explains the first author of the article, Anna Vallverdú Queralt. "The more stress plants suffer, the more polyphenols they produce," points out lecturer Lamuela. Numerous scientific investigations show that the consumption of these antioxidants has numerous health benefits.

The team is still unable to categorically state that organic tomatoes have higher nutritional benefits, but they hope to achieve that goal with a new study looking at the health profiles of those that do and do not regularly consume organic tomatoes.

Click here to read the article in full.