Surprising Health Benefits of Tomatoes: The Lycopene and Tomatine Effects and Optimum Intake Levels

Tomatoes are a known food source for humans, containing a variety of secondary metabolites including phenolic compounds, phytoalexins, protease inhibitors, and glycoalkaloids. These metabolites protect against adverse effects of hosts of predators including fungi, bacteria, viruses, and insects. Glycoalkaloids in tomatoes are reported to be involved in host-plant resistance, on the one hand, and to have a variety of pharmacological and nutritional properties in animals and humans. One most commonly and widely documented tomato nutrient ingredient belonging to the carotenoids is lycopene, known to have antioxidant properties.The less talked about tomato nutrient ingredient of remarkable health benefits belonging to the glycoalkaloids is tomatine. Brief characteristics features and health benefits of the two nutrient ingredients are presented below.

Health Benefits and Main Features of  Lycopene & Tomatine in Green and Ripe Tomatoes

Nutrient
Lycopene
Tomatine
Green Tomato
Ripe Tomato
Green Tomato
Ripe Tomato




Type of Compounds
Carotenoid
Glycoalkaloid
Health Benefits
A powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including sun protection (improved skin health), improved heart health, improves bone health and a lower risk of certain types of cancer, etc.
Anticarcinigenic, cardioprotective, antimicrobial activities, α-Tomatine helps in scavenging of ROS, stimulates skeletal muscle hypertrophy and reduces skeletal muscle atrophy, etc.




mg/kg
mg/kg
mg/kg
mg/kg
Lycopene - Fresh Tomato
Lack  lycopene
125.8


Lycopen - Tomato Paste

156.5


Lycopene - Ketchup

170.0


Spaghetti Source

159.2






Tomatine, fresh wt

480
4






The table above can help us quickly depict and compare the main characteristics of the the two tomato nutrient compounds, lycopene and tomatine, their health benefits and their contents in both green and ripe tomatoes and other tomato products. This may in particular help us to understand potential challenges we might face in optimum intake of these powerful health-benefiting nutrients from tomatoes.

Some sources have indicated that there is currently no recommended daily intake for lycopene. However, from some of the current studies, intakes between 8–21 mg per day appear to be most beneficial. This translates to 3 - 7 savings (300 - 700 mg) of fresh ripe tomatoes per day. This is an unlikely reality to meeting optimum lycopene intakes and therefore supplementation might be a more realistic way forward. As for the case of tomatine, it is more convincing that intake from from green tomatoes (the major food source) is more challenging because of issues of palatability. Therefore, supplements intake is the most likely ideal way of optimum intake of tomatine. Some sources have indicated that, current supplements offer a dose of between 10-50mg per serve, and for optimal absorption, splitting the dose to 1-4 servings/day may be ideal.


Sources:

Admin (2017). Tomatidine, A steroidal compound protects against muscle atrophy. Available at: http://yongyi.shyuanzhen.com/index.php?a=shows&catid=11&id=38

Friedman, Mendel (2013). "Anticarcinogenic, Cardioprotective, and Other Health Benefits of Tomato Compounds Lycopene, α-Tomatine, and Tomatidine in Pure Form and in Fresh and Processed Tomatoes". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 61 (40): 9534–50. doi:10.1021/jf402654e. PMID 24079774

MENDEL FRIEDMAN (2002). Tomato Glycoalkaloids: Role in the Plant and in the Diet. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 50, 5751−5780. Available at: http://toxicology.usu.edu/endnote/Friedman-Tomato-alkaloidsJ-Agric-Food-Chem-2002-50-5751-80.pdf 

Petre, A. (2018). Lycopene: Health Benefits and Top Food Sources, Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lycopene


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