A new study has found that cooked tomato sauce actually helps to improve the activity of probiotics in the gut.
Tomatoes have often received praised as a health food due to their high level of lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that can protect and repair the body from damage caused by multiple diseases. Research has also shown that tomatoes have probiotic properties that boost the activity of healthy bacteria in the gut.
This latest research from scientists at a university in Valencia, Spain, looked at the effect of cooked tomato sauces and how these sauces caused antioxidants to interact with good bacteria in the gut.
To conduct the study, the researchers used pear tomatoes, which have a higher content of lycopene, and specifically examined how one of the main bacterial pigments that affect gut health, Lactobacillus reuteri, would interact with the antioxidants found in tomato sauce, and whether or not the cooking process would influence the results.
The research found a loss of antioxidants during the digestive process, for both raw and cooked tomato sauce, with Lactobacillus reuteri preventing the antioxidants from being absorbed into the blood system.
However, the study also found that the antioxidants from the tomato sauce enhanced the positive effects of Lactobacillus reuteri.
“We worked with raw and fried tomato to determine the impact of processing,” explained senior researcher Ana Belén Heredia.
“We found that serving meals rich in probiotics with fried tomato sauce boosts its probiotic effect.”
The study has highlighted the importance of assessing foods for health benefits from a new angle – making sure that not only do we consider the effects cooking may have on them, but also understanding the impact of the digestive process on these nutrients.
Read the full study.
What foods do you find help with your gut issues? Do you cook with a lot of tomato-based sauces?