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    In The News: A Little Processing Never Hurts

    Today’s Chicago Tribune reports that tomato paste (made by rehydrating tomato powder) appears to be more beneficial in lowering prostate cancer risk than actual tomatoes.

    Researchers believe this is due not only to a higher lycopene content in cooked tomatoes, but also the presence of “FruHis—a carbohydrate present in dehydrated tomato products.”

    The studies have thus far only been done on rats, but investigators would like to see clinical trials on humans next.

    Although the article appears to make the point that this goes against commonly held beliefs that “natural is best,” I don’t consider tomato paste to be a processed food.

    Yes, technically it undergoes processing (hence the addition of some sodium, although sodium-free varieties are available), but my idea of a tomato-based processed food would be “veggie chips” with tomatoes in them.

    After all, tomato paste is made from… tomatoes (as opposed to, say, tomato-flavored corn starch).

    What this article unmistakably shows is that heating vegetables often unlocks higher amounts of nutrients and antioxidants.

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    2 Comments

    1. shane said on June 20th, 2008

      I read recently that boiling broccoli and/or carrots may also be one degree of “processing” away from raw or natural that may enhance certain nutrients found in those vegetables. I haven’t seen the original studies unfortunately, but it may be further evidence that defining natural is a slightly broader concept than purely raw.

      It’s certainly not unreasonable to think that this may be the case, considering the biological complexity of … you know … everything. 🙂

    2. Andy Bellatti said on June 20th, 2008

      Shane, the article you probably read recommended cooking vegetables by either steaming, microwaving, or blanching (dropping raw veggies in boiling water for no more than 60 seconds).

      Boiling vegetables is detrimental to their nutrition, as it leeches out water-soluble nutrients (B vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals).

      I blogged about this last year. Click on the “blanching” tag on the right side of the front page of Small Bites for more information.

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