Chapter 15: Functional and Health-promoting Properties of Tomatoes: It's Not Just Lycopene
Published:07 Jan 2019
R. Martí, M. Valcárcel, S. Roselló, and J. Cebolla-Cornejo, in Tomato Chemistry, Industrial Processing and Product Development, ed. S. Porretta, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019, ch. 15, pp. 285-303.
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Consumers increasingly demand food products with high functional quality, capable of preventing the development of diseases and contributing to the maintenance of well-being. The benefits of eating more vegetable-based products have contributed to this trend. The functional quality of tomato products has usually been linked to their lycopene content, even though its presence cannot be claimed in all countries as its health-promoting properties are controversial. Lycopene is probably the best-known compound in tomato, as it defines the characteristic red colour and can be found in a limited number of other species. However, tomato is also an important dietary source of other bioactive compounds including vitamin C, β-carotene, and polyphenols. In these cases, the high levels of consumption of tomato, exceeding 40 kg per capita per year in some parts of the world, compensates for the medium to low levels of these molecules. In this chapter, the benefits of tomato consumption and the effects of its bioactive constituents on cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and other degenerative diseases are analysed. The efforts made in plant breeding programmes to increase the contents of these constituents are also discussed. Currently, combining high pigment genes with genes altering the carotenoid profile and anthocyanin accumulation seems to be the best way to offer maximum functional quality in small-size cultivars.