Feb. 6, 2007 Research involving tomato sauce made from an heirloom tomato variety named the tangerine tomato 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 and colleagues point out that many deeply colored vegetables and fruits are rich in lycopene, a carotenoid linked to health benefits. However, not all of the lycopene is bioavailable — able to be absorbed into the blood after consumption, they note in a report scheduled for the Feb. 7 issue of the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly journal.
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 have a bright orange color and 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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