Orange tomatoes?

I’m savoring every last bite of this season’s tomato crop. Not only do they taste like summer, but, as you probably know, tomatoes are packed with lycopene. Lycopene is a phytonutrient that may prevent cancer, especially prostate cancer.

However, I just read a study that shows orange-colored tomatoes may be an even better source of lycopene than the standard red varieties.

These researchers refer to them as “tangerine tomatoes.” You don’t see them everywhere. But farmers’ markets and specialty grocery stores usually carry them.

In the study, 21 adults were given lunches containing either “tangerine-tomato” sauce or regular red tomato sauce. Then, they switched, so each group got the opposite sauce. Both sauces raised the volunteers’ lycopene levels. But levels were significantly higher after the participants ate the “tangerine-tomato” sauce.

Researchers say the orange-colored tomatoes contain a special type of lycopene called tetra-cis-lycopene, which is more bioavailable to the body.

So do yourself a favor. Head out to your local farmer’s market or produce stand this weekend. And pick up a few tangerine tomatoes. Just promise me one thing…If you cook up a pot of marinara, spoon it over meatloaf–not spaghetti.

“Tangerine tomatoes increase total and tetra-cis-lycopene isomer concentrations more than red tomatoes in healthy adult humans.” Int J Food Sci Nutr 2009; 60(Suppl 1): 1-16