Sunday, June 4, 2023

Is it Better to Cook Tomatoes or Eat Them Raw?

Cooking tomatoes changes the nutrient profile of tomatoes, especially its antioxidants. There are benefits and disadvantages of each way of consuming—raw and cooked tomatoes.


Cook your tomatoes.

The Science

When Cooking Decreases Nutrients…

Some nutrients are destroyed in the process of cooking.

  • Vitamin C gets oxidised to biologically inactive compounds on heating.
  • When tomatoes are cooked for fifteen to thirty minutes, their vitamin C reduces by fifteen to thirty per cent. Vitamin C is a healthful antioxidant that helps in immunity, heart health and against cancer.
  • Vitamin C dissolves in the water used for cooking, which is removed in some tomato preparations.

When Cooking Increases Nutrients…

  • The most potent antioxidant in tomatoes–lycopene–is usually bound inside its cells’ rigid walls. On cooking, these walls break down, releasing lycopene.
  • Lycopene reduces cancer and heart disease risk.
  • Cooking tomatoes for fifteen to thirty minutes increases lycopene availability by 160 per cent.
  • One is advised to take 20 mg of lycopene a day.
  • A hundred grams of raw tomato contain 3 mg; similar amounts of cooked tomatoes have 9 mg, tomato paste offers 15 mg, and tomato ketchup gives 30 mg.
  • Up to 75 mg of lycopene is not found to be harmful. So you may slurp your ketchup away from the prying eyes of your neighbours. Just make sure it is not laced with sugar—usually, 25% of ketchup is added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
  • The overall antioxidant levels increase by thirty-five to sixty per cent in a cooked tomato.
  • The cooked forms of tomatoes—pastes, purées, and ketchup—are far more nutritious than the raw tomato.

Since almost no one eats tomatoes for their vitamin C content, cooked tomatoes are a better option.

Most antioxidants in a tomato, including lycopene, are near its skin surface. So do not peel your tomato, whether eating it raw or cooked.

Smaller tomatoes have more skin area per weight. So pick relatively smaller tomatoes.

This information is from my upcoming book to be published by Macmillan Publishers in Nov 2023. It discusses twenty superfoods, their nutrients, health benefits, recommended amounts and excess levels. It also covers how to select and store and who should avoid them.

The superfoods: Tomatoes, carrots, spinach, beetroot, coconut, capsicum (Shimla mirch), drumsticks, pineapples, papaya, amla (Indian gooseberry), jamun (Java plum), turmeric, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, flax seeds, aloe vera, green tea, asafoetida (hing), and sabja (sweet basil seeds).

To Read More

First Published on: 20 Apr 2023
Image Credits: Pixabay on Pexels


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