The common dogma is that fresh food is more healthy than processed food. Is that also true in the case of tomato paste?

Carolyn Susman wrote in the ChicagoTribune:

Despite advice that eating a whole food can be superior to eating a supplement or processed food containing the vitamins or minerals of the real thing, the tomato is turning that dictum on its ear.


research had shown that processed tomato products, particularly tomato paste, may fight prostate cancer even better than fresh tomatoes.

Are there reasons to believe that fresh tomatoes aren't healthier than tomato paste?

  • 1
    The question of whether tomatoes are "more healthy" is vague, where the article - after its attention-getting lede - gets quite specific about what is meant: The higher content of lycopene and FruHis leading to lower prostate cancer. I think this question should be specific about that claim, rather than wishy-washy about "healthy" - whatever that means. – Oddthinking Oct 13 '15 at 7:03

If one wants to obtain health benefits by the consumption of lycopene in tomato, the amount of lycopene µg per Serving of 1 cup for a raw tomato is 3165 µg while one cup of tomato paste contains 75362 µg of lycopene referring to USDA National Nutrient Database of Standard Reference.

There are several other nutrients in tomatoes whose bioavailability varies depending on raw, cooked or processed forms including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, vitamin C, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, K and E, pantothenic acid, fibre and folate, as well as a small amount of lipids and amino acids. They also contain phytochemicals such as beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, curcumin, tocotrienols, phenol, flavonols such as kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, and flavanones.

  1. Per C Gartner et.al. in 1997, in humans the bioavailability of lycopene is greater from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. Researchers believe that processing or cooking the tomatoes breaks down cell walls, making the lycopene more accessible to the body when ingested.

  2. Per Melody J Brown et.al. in 2004, research shows that absorption of lycopene is further enhanced when it is consumed with a small amount of fat.

Lycopene bioavailability showed the most dramatic improvement when added fat was increased from 6 to 28 g. The pronounced fat effect for lycopene is consistent with the hypothesized interaction of fat and the extent of micellar solubilization of vegetable carotenoids.

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