A new piece of research shows that organically grown tomatoes really are healthier than those that are conventionally grown.
The organic tomatoes were fertilised with animal manure and vegetable compost and contained concentrations of vitamin C up to 57% higher, and ripe fruits contained well over twice the quantity of phenolic compounds despite being smaller in size.
Plant phenols, such as flavonoids, are largely responsible for the health-giving properties associated with many fruits and vegetables.
They help the body fight free radical damage of cells that are linked to chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and dementia.
Lycopene, a tomato flavonoid, has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and slow tumour growth.
The Researchers led by Dr Maria Raquel Miranda, from the Federal University of Ceara, Brazil suggest that while conventionally grown tomatoes are sprayed with protective pesticides and artificial fertilisers, organic farming forces the fruits to fend for themselves. This ‘stress’ promotes greater concentrations of health-giving chemicals, according to the scientists.
A spokesman for the Soil Association who promote organic farming said:
“This study backs a number of others which highlight the health benefits of organic fruit and vegetables. For example, a recent US study showed that organic strawberries have significantly higher levels of antioxidants and found that the soil on the organic farms was healthier and contained more bacteria and insect life.
“Consumers have a variety of reasons for choosing organic produce, including the lack of pesticide residues and benefits for wildlife.”
SWEET AND SOUR RED SAUCE
Try this pungent tomato sauce which is excellent as a sauce for pastas, meats, fish and poultry.
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 50g unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 x 400g tines plum tomatoes, drained of juice
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp agave syrup
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- place shallots, garlic, butter and oil into a heavy bottomed pan and cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until shallots are soft but not coloured.
- Add parsley and tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring to prevent them sticking.
- Cool slightly and blend in a liquidiser or with stick blender until pureed. Return to pan and add the vinegar, sugar and cinnamon. Cook uncovered over a low heat for 30 minutes stirring every now and then. Add a little water if mixture becomes too thick.