A study conducted by researchers at the University of Barcelona shows that organic tomatoes contain higher levels of phenolic compounds than conventional tomatoes . Phenolic compounds are organic molecules with proven human health benefits and are found in many vegetables. This further substantiates previous research by the UB’s Natural Antioxidant Group when they verified that organic tomato juice and ketchup contain higher polyphenol content than juice and ketchup made from conventionally grown tomatoes.
Polyphenols are natural antioxidants of plant origin and are of extreme interest because they are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer. The team behind the study analyzed a variety of tomato called Daniela and determined its phenolic profile, identifying over 34 different phenolic compounds.
Organic farming doesn’t involve nitrogenous fertilizers or pesticides, which allow plants to strengthen their own natural defenses. This increases antioxidant levels. In other words, a stronger plant that is a healthier plant is also a more nutritious plant.
The Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules by free radicals. Free radicals cause cells in the body to become deformed, which in turn makes the body weaker and is also the cause of what we consider to be signs of age. Once an antioxidant finds its way into the body, usually through food, it slows down, or even prevents, the oxidation of other molecules and protects our cells from free radicals.
Numerous scientific studies show the consumption of antioxidant-rich, organic produce has innumerable health benefits. But anecdotal logic supports it as well. Think about it, organically, and preferably locally grown, vegetables and fruit are the least tainted, least manipulated produce you can get. That’s not to say there aren’t fundamental concerns to be aware of, as with all food, but doesn’t it just make sense that the tomato you nurtured in your own back yard would provide more nutritional value than one pumped full of fertilizers, sprayed with pesticides and trucked in from 7 states away?
- Anna Vallverdú-Queralt, Olga Jáuregui, Alexander Medina-Remón, Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventós. Evaluation of a method to characterize the phenolic profile of organic and conventional tomatoes. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2012 March 2 60 (13), pp 3373–3380 DOI: 10.1021/jf204702f.