Tomatoes are processed in two different ways in order to get the optimum benefits. Tomatoes are heat-processed (hot break) or cold-processed (cold break). Both processes go through heating to remove bacteria and other contaminants. In the cold break process, tomatoes are washed, chopped and heated in a temperature ranging from 65˚ to 75°C. The puree produced through this process retains its good red colour and sweet tangy flavour that is best consumed directly like fresh tomato juice. This type of process produces tomato ketchup.
In the hot break process, the ripe tomatoes are crushed and heated in very high temperature ranging from 85˚ to 100°C. This is the process of making tomato paste. Of the two processes, hot-break is considered to be the healthiest way of consuming tomatoes for the following reasons:
- Tomatoes that are heated or cooked at high-temperature release an antioxidant. Numerous scientific studies show that Lycopene helps prevent cancer by preventing free radical cells to develop into malignant tumours. Tomato paste has the highest lycopene content amongst the beta-carotene class.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Tomatoes also contain the phytochemicals Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are known to prevent eye diseases. These nutrients help shield the eyes from the damaging rays of the sun. These can prevent the progression of certain types of cancer such as breast and colon cancer.
- Tomatoes help clean our colon by stimulating the normal digestion process. The fibre-rich tomato helps the passage of stool, thus, preventing constipation. Fibre does not change even if tomatoes are processed into a paste.
- Cardiovascular Health. Heat-processed tomato concentrate is rich in Vitamin B and Potassium. These nutrients are responsible for keeping our cholesterol level within the normal range. With the abundant presence of Vitamin C and Choline in tomatoes, you stand a good chance at living a long, healthy life.
- Collagen Production. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen. This nutrient is essential for healthy connective tissues, hair, skin, and nails. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C whether consumed raw or processed.
- Pregnancy Diet Supplement. Tomatoes provide a rich source of folate or folic acid that is essential to the infant’s growth and development inside the womb.
However, fresh tomatoes pose certain health hazards if consumed without proper handling. Tomatoes grown in big farms are treated with pesticides and other contaminants. Therefore, it is best to use the heat-processed tomato products and be confident knowing that you are getting the best value for your money.