Organic grown tomatoes had been found to be rich with chemical compounds known as polyphenols that could help stop the spread of certain cancers, protect against heart disease due to their anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties and protect as well against chronic conditions such as arthritis, according to a study.
Researchers from the University of Barcelona have found the pesticide-free version of the fruit contains higher levels of disease-fighting chemicals than the conventional kind.
The findings challenge the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a UK government’s food watchdog, which has long dismissed the health gains of organic food.
The FSA declared in a 2009 report that there was no ‘nutritional difference’ between organic and conventionally produced food.
The scientists, however, said the difference between organic and conventional tomatoes can be explained by the manure used to grow them.
‘Organic farming doesn’t use nitrogenous fertilizers; as a result, plants respond by activating their own defense mechanisms, increasing the levels of all antioxidants,’ according to lead author of the study Anna Vallverdú Queralt.
Rosa M. Lamuela, co-author of the study also said, organic tomatoes produce higher levels of antioxidants in response to more stressful growing conditions.
The team behind the latest study analyzed the chemical structure of the Daniela variety of tomato.
They detected various beneficial compounds in both the organic and conventional tomatoes which also contain high levels of vitamin C.
However, they found that overall the organic tomatoes, contained higher levels of the polyphenols.
This also confirms a major meta-analysis of all research comparing beneficial nutrients in organic and non-organic food by Dr. Kirsten Brandt and others at the University of Newcastle, published in May 2011,’ according to Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association.
A team led by Ms. Lamuela, had previously proved that organic tomato juice and ketchup contains higher polyphenol content than juice and ketchup made from conventionally grown tomatoes.
The researchers said further clinical studies are needed to see if the organic tomatoes have a more potent effect on the body than the conventional type.
The latest study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.