The nutritional value of the tomato owes to the beneficial effects that some of its components have on human health, particularly the prevention of some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease and, in general, contributing to the inhibition of oxidative processes. Among these, beta-carotene and lycopene are the most important, the former represented at levels four to eight times lower than the latter. The tomato is an irreplaceable component of the Mediterranean diet, to which it contributes antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and carotenoids. The preference of consumers has recently increased towards small-sized tomato varieties, which nowadays represent an emergent product in Italy, where different cultivars are produced and delivered almost entirely for fresh consumption. Many authors have studied the nutritional characteristics of cherry tomatoes, but no study, other than the one presented in this chapter, deals with plum tomatoes, which turn out to be a tomato type even more valuable than the cherry tomato in terms of its carotenoid content. All of the studies, including the one presented hereafter, confirm that small-sized tomatoes, with differences among varieties, are richer in dry matter and in antioxidant compounds, which accumulate especially in the external parts of the fruits and are, therefore, more concentrated in small berries having a higher surface/volume ratio. A literature survey of the tomato's nutritional content points out that if, on one hand, it is difficult to correlate the lycopene content with the tomato size, as some large-sized varieties are rich in this carotenoid, it is more evident that small-sized varieties are characterized by higher beta-carotene levels. Tomato antioxidanls are relatively stable in the presence of heat treatment. The partial drying of cherry tomatoes represents a novel preservation technology with the ability to increase the opportunity for consumption of tomatoes. Semi-dry cherry tomatoes obtained at higher temperatures with short drying times show a nutritional content, with special regard for beta-carotene, very close to the fresh product. The slight heat damage produced is easily counterbalanced by the concentration of dry matter which, in turn, allows increased consumption of the tomato's nutritive compounds.
|Titolo:||The Role of Small-Sized Tomatoes in Carotenoid Uptake|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2009|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)|