Scientists in Spain have found that cooked tomatoes boost the level of healthy bacteria in the gut and have a better probiotic effect rather than when eaten raw.
The antioxidant lycopene is more readily available when the tomatoes are cooked and it is thought lycopene helps prevent some types of cancer such as prostrate cancer. Researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València wanted to study how digestion affects these antioxidants and their cancer fighting abilities.
Their findings suggest that cooking concentrates the lycopene in tomatoes and the more lycopene we consume the better the chances of some of it surviving the digestion process, thus boosting our ability to ward off rogue cells within our bodies.
The scientists said that the findings could lead to more research being done on foods with a view to preventing cancers of the digestive system, as well as using diet to aid conventional cancer treatment. Understanding the effects of cooking and digestion of certain foods would also help manufacturers formulate healthier meals and further our understanding of gut health.