The “tomato” word may denote the plant Solanum lycopersicumL. The “tomato” word has the origin and description from the “tomatl” representing “the bulge fruit”. Globally its production is round about 159 million tones. In Pakistan,tomato crop is employed in various ways, comprising raw constituents, as an ingredient in many dishes, salads, drinks and of course sauces. Tomatoes are almost grown in all provinces of Pakistan owing its utmost importance and vital nature.
Tomato plant habit is perennial in natural habitation, while in temperate climates it is often grown annually. Optimum growth shown under temperature of 20-27°C, however fruit setting is deprived when average temperature fall below 10°C or exceed 30°C. Tomato cultivars produces fruit in many diverse colors mostly in red, but fruit with orange, yellow, green, pink, black, white or purple are also available. Its fruit is not as sweet as other fruits like mangoes, apples etc., as possessing much lower sugar content.
With having a number of wide limit utilizations as indicated from tomato fruit uses in as an ingredient in many dishes, drinks, sauces, raw vegetable it is also being regarded vital source of nutrients for the whole world population. There are many diverse varieties of tomato roughly categorized into various sub groups based on their color, shape and size such as beefsteak tomato, slicing or globe tomato, plum tomato, oxheart tomato, cherry tomato, pear tomato, campari tomato, grape tomato, bright yellow tomato shown in figure below.
However, all have the similar nutritious characteristics, being vital source of phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium. Tomato based products largely contain many essential nutrients and vitamins specially vitamin C, fibers, minerals and some other phytonutrients. Some of the nutritional facts of tomato can be comprehended from the table below.
From the health associated aspect, the red plant pigment “Lycopene” found in many fruits and vegetables like guavas, apricots, papayas, pink grapefruit, watermelon particularly tomato being the significant shareholder with humans dietary intake and foodstuff. Tomato is the main source of lycopene with about 85% lycopene contents, in our daily foodstuff, comes from tomato and tomato products with remaining 15% are being availed from various other fruits and vegetables.
The deep red colour of lycopene and its antioxidant property is due to the presence of these 11 conjugated double bonds and due because of this reason lycopene is used in food coloring. Lycopene is also capable in quenching singlet oxygen. Lycopene normally is not an integral part of our food but it is mainly found in our diet, especially foods that contain tomato, tomatos sauce or its other processing products. After digestion, lycopene is absorbed by the stomach walls and transported into the blood stream.
There are various tomato-based products used in our daily life comprising ketchup, juice, soup and pizza sauces are common. Lycopene is the major coloring pigment in tomato although many other carotenoids substances are also responsible for deep red coloration. Tomato processing i.e. softening of cell walls, associated with lycopenes bio-accessibility by production of lycopene in tomato tissues more manageable, and by altering some of the trans-isomers of lycopene to cis-isomers may be necessary.
Various primary and secondary metabolites are also present in tomato along with many health-promoting compounds such as vitamin C, lycopene, carotenoids and β-carotenoids. Recent research has revealed that some natural toxic compounds in tomato i.e. alpha-tomatine, dehydrotmatine and glycoalkaloid are also occurred. These toxins constituents at higher concentration or at high does affect the membrane disruption activity that affect digestive functionality and anticholinesterase activity of the CNS (Central Nervous System) when exposed in mammals.
If we eat a single tomato in a day, it will meet our 40% vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which helps to prevent many cancer-inducing oxidants and free radicals that damage the normal body function. There are abundant amount of vitamins present in tomato fruit as well as iron and potassium. Potassium is most effective in maintaining proper nerve functions and iron possessions are required in maintenance of health of red blood cells. In case of any injury or excessive loss of blood, the vitamin K of tomato is vital in clotting of blood cells working as to stop bleeding.
In tomato plant, vitamin C and lycopene are considered strongantioxidants associated with free radicals scavenging mechanism produced by partial reduction of oxygen. These free radicals or reactive oxygen species also known as oxidants. These oxidants are synthesized either from internal cell metabolism (in-situ) or through external causes (ex-situ) such as radiation and pollution.
Continuous free radical formation in the body leads to a phenomenal cause referring as oxidative stress, which leads to the imbalance between generation and scavenging of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). Moreover, lipid peroxidation is one of the most unwanted effect of these ROS; during lipid peroxidation toxic products are formed. As a result, aging and many other degenerative illness process increases for case considerations.
Tomato lycopene has the competency to reduce the risk of lipid peroxidation in the blood flow. In lipid peroxidation process, fats that are positioned in the membranes of cells inside layer of the bloodstream or fats that are present around in the blood, are bruised by oxygen. This bruised can be restored, if it is reserved at adaptable levels. However, extreme or chronic lipid peroxidation in the blood flow leads to distress.
The second rank of research involves the regulation of fats in the blood linking tomatoes with the heart normality and associativity to heart related issues. Utilization of tomato extracts, nutritional intake of tomatoes and boost with tomato phytonutrients such as lycopene have shown to increase the profile of fats in our blood flow. Specially, tomato consumption has been shown to consequence in reduced total cholesterol, reduced LDL (Low Density Lipids) cholesterol, reduced triglyceride levels and reduction in buildup of cholesterol molecules inside the macrophage cells. Tomato comprises significant nutritional elements such as folate, niacin and vitamin B6 that have related with the decline in risk of heart diseases. Lycopene consumption has also been found to be related with a lesser risk of myocardial infraction.
Lycopene content in the body may increase by dietary uptake of tomato and this lycopene is active against a number of reactive oxygen species, overall increases the antioxidant protection by reducing the oxidative damage to many membrane lipids, lipoproteins, genetic material and enzymes. Hence, lower the oxidative stress as a result, reduces the risk of cardiovascular and cancer diseases. In other words, enhance the lycopene status by in taking tomatoes regulating many gene functions, modulate hormones, improve internal communication and maintain metabolism so that risk of chronic disease may reduce. This interrelated mechanism operates simultaneously and improves the health mechanics.
There are many other health benefits of tomato and its related products; some are briefly described as follows:
• Potassium and vitamin B of tomato reduces the blood pressure and cholesterol level. This is the reason that tomatoes are effective against heart attack, stroke and many other heart related diseases.
• Many studies exhibited that tomato without seeds reduces the risk of kidney stone.
• Vitamin A of tomato provides good vision.
• Vitamin K and potassium of tomato provides strengthening to bones as well as it also maintains minor repair of bones.
• The chromium mineral of tomato maintains blood sugar level in diabetics patient.
• Lycopenes antioxidant contents lessen the chance of many types of cancers such as colorectal, stomach and prostate.
• The chlorogenic acid and coumaric acid of tomato reduces the effects of carcinogens on body that are generated due to smoking.
Concisely and conclusively, it is evident that eating tomatoes and tomato based products could protect many types of chronic diseases especially cancer and cardiovascular problems. Lycopene from tomato being responsible for red color of tomato is comprehended as the protective substance against diseases. Despite of lycopene, many other substances also present in tomato with the complex interaction of these multiple substances contributing for disease protection functioning physically and physiologically in health and associated medical benefits.
Authors are from the Department of Botany, Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, and Department of Biochemistry, BZ University, Multan.
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