By Michelle Fabio
In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers at Ohio State University found that orange “Tangerine” tomatoes contain lycopene that is more easily absorbed into the body than red tomatoes.
Why should we care?
Lycopene is a powerful nutritional antioxidant that reduces the amount of damage done to body cells by oxygen that could lead to cancers and heart disease.
Although red tomatoes have lycopene in higher concentrations, individuals in the study that were given spaghetti meals made with orange tomatoes absorbed up to two and a half times more lycopene into their bodies than those who had the red tomato pasta sauce.
Note, though, that both groups absorbed a high rate of beta carotene, showing once again that tomatoes, no matter their color, are a great way to get this carotonoid which, when converted by the body into Vitamin A, can help the immune system and eye health as well as protect against heart disease and cancer.
Unfortunately for the average consumer, the type of tomato used in the experiment is not yet commercially available, but researchers pointed out that the results could mean that it’s better to seek out lighter, orange and gold-colored heirlooms if you’re interested in maximum lycopene absorption.
Remember, though, that any tomato you eat is high in lycopene as well as beta carotene, so keep slicing!