Eat Your Tomatoes
An important health food note from Agri Canada
Tomato skins and tomato products contain higher levels of lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant with cancer-fighting properties. Clinical studies have shown that lycopcene may actively inhibit the development of several cancers, including prostate, digestive tract, breast, lung and cervical cancers. Lycopene has also been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
Lycopene is valued at about $100 per milligram in its purest form. With suggested daily dosages falling between 10 and 50 milligrams per day for adults, taking a daily lycopene supplement would be prohibitively expensive for most Canadian men and women. That's where the tomato comes in.
Ontario produces more tomatoes than anywhere else in North America, except for California. More than 500,000 tonnes of processing tomatoes are produced in Ontario annually, and there are more than 10 tomato processing plants located in southern Ontario alone. Currently, the skin of a tomato is peeled and discarded when tomatoes are processed. The amount of skin discarded each year in Ontario could create 5,000 kg of lycopene. Efforts are currently underway to fortify tomato products with lycopene extracted from tomato skins so that people can get greater benefit from the tomatoes they eat every day.