Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2013

The Health Benefits of Organic Tomatoes

tomatobasketThe Health Benefits of Organic Tomatoes

By April S. Kenyon

It is no secret that tomatoes carry a number of health benefits, including cancer fighting antioxidants and heart healthy vitamins and nutrients. What some may not be aware of however, are the added benefits organically grown tomatoes have over those that are treated with harmful sprays and fertilizers.

Organically grown tomatoes that are not exposed to harmful chemicals and are allowed to ripen on the vine tend to contain more nutrients than traditionally grown tomatoes. Chemical sprays and fertilizers can be harmful if consumed by humans. Thus, tomatoes treated with these chemicals can present a variety of hazards. In addition to containing more vitamins and essential nutrients, organically grown tomatoes pack in an abundance of flavor that is rarely found in tomatoes that have been chemically treated.

The popularity of tomatoes helps to make them a top source of vitamins and nutrients in an individual’s diet. On average, individuals consume approximately 85-90 pounds of tomatoes and products containing tomatoes on a yearly basis. This delicious fruit/vegetable contains numerous vitamins and nutrients, such as lycopene, potassium, vitamin C, and various flavonoids. Research has discovered that organically grown tomatoes ripened on the vine and produced without the use of harmful chemicals have higher nutritional levels than traditionally grown tomatoes. Finding methods to enhance the nutritional value of tomatoes could have a substantial impact on the quality of the average diets of individual’s worldwide.

 The History of the Tomato

Ironically, the tomato was once mistakenly thought to be poisonous. In colonial times, the tomato was feared for its bright and shiny deep red color. A member of the nightshade family, it was said to be highly poisonous and had the capability of turning an individual’s blood into acid if it was consumed. It was thought to cause cancer, “brain fever,” and numerous other fatal ailments. How ironic that it was later found that this same fruit/vegetable contained valuable nutrients and vitamins that contribute greatly to heart health and the prevention of various cancers and other illnesses.

The Dangers of Pesticides and Chemical Fertilizers

Chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers often used in traditional gardening. Many are unaware, or simply fail to heed, the dangers associated with the use of these toxins. Fertilizers and sprays that contain harmful chemicals can place individuals at a higher risk for serious health conditions, such as cancer, leukemia, and liver damage. In addition, the toxins present in many chemically based fertilizers and sprays may add to the risk of birth defects in unborn children. Even with excessive washing, tomatoes that have been grown by traditional methods will likely still contain traces of harmful chemicals within the fruit itself. The ingestion of these chemicals can lead to serious health complications.

Fight Cancer

Studies at the University of California-Davis have indicated that organically grown tomatoes have significantly higher levels of cancer fighting antioxidants than tomatoes that are produced traditionally with chemical fertilizers and sprays. Out of the three types of flavonoids studied, all three were found at abundantly higher levels in organically grown tomatoes than in those produced by traditional chemical methods. Over time, the levels of these flavonoids steadily increased, while levels only varied slightly in traditionally grown tomatoes and were reported in significantly lower amounts. In the final ripened product, organic tomatoes were found to contain as much as 97% higher antioxidant levels than conventional tomatoes that were grown in mineralized nitrogen soil. The organically grown tomatoes were raised in soil that was fertilized by natural manure application. These studies suggest that the higher flavonoid levels in organic tomatoes are largely due to the type of nitrogen the plants receive.

Prevent Heart Disease

Potassium is a nutrient essential to heart health. It prevents high blood pressure and reduces the chance of heart disease. Tomatoes have been found to be a reliable source of potassium. Organic tomatoes that have received nutrients from natural fertilization application and have been allowed to remain on the vine until ripe will provide substantially more potassium than conventional tomatoes grown with chemical fertilization methods. Just a single serving, or approximately 1 cup, of organic tomatoes will account for over 10% of an individual’s daily potassium requirements.

Other Health Benefits

The combination of the nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants present in tomatoes work together to produce any number of health benefits. Organically grown tomatoes can assist in the prevention of a large number of other health problems, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, and cancer of the pancreas or colon. It has additionally been discovered that drinking tomato juice or consuming tomatoes can help to reduce blood clots and inflammation. The high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C present in organic tomatoes work together to eliminate any free radicals that may contribute to painful inflammation or conditions that might contribute to cancer.






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