Research has found that organic tomatoes have far more antioxidants
There was a time when the term ‘organic‘ referred simply to a living organism of some kind – plants were organic by the very fact that they were living things. Since the 60s, however, when awareness of the health issues related to certain pesticides came to light, the term has come to mean something different. Now it refers to plants, fruit and vegetables that are grown without the use of man-made chemicals. The business of organic food is estimated to be worth £1 billion every year in the UK – and yet there hasn’t been a lot of evidence showing that organic is any healthier than non-organic. Now new research from the University of Barcelona shows that, at least in tomatoes, the more natural production method creates a superior fruit.
The researchers had previously shown that organic ketchup contained more phenolic compounds than the conventional kind. Tomatoes contain at least 34 different types of these compounds and they are believed to be part of the reason the Mediterranean diet has so many health benefits. Olive oil, sweet peppers and tomatoes are all rich in phenols. But in order to show that it was the organic production method that had made the difference, not the treatment of the tomatoes used in processing them, the researchers needed to look at the fruit itself. Their latest study backs up their earlier research: organic growing methods do indeed seem to produce tomatoes with more phenolic compounds.
The results, say the researchers, can be explained by the fact that nitrogenous fertilisers are not used in organic farming which means that the tomato plants work harder to activate their defense mechanisms. And it’s this activation that actually produces more antioxidants in the plant itself.
Find tips on growing tomatoes in our gardening section, plus we have lots of tasty tomato recipes to help you make the most out of your organic produce.
Join the discussion about organic tomatoes here in Saga Zone