The Vitamin C Content of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants. One of the most researched antioxidants in tomatoes is the red pigment lycopene, a carotenoid that has been shown to be beneficial to prostate health. However, tomatoes are also a rich source of vitamin C, which can contribute significantly to the overall antioxidant effects. The vitamin C content of tomatoes is quite variable, and this variability depends to a large extent on the genetics of the fruit as well as the conditions under which the tomato was grown. Total vitamin C content of a tomato ranges from about 7 to over 40 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh fruit. Environmental factors that can alter the vitamin C content of the growing and ripening fruit include light and temperature. Generally greenhouse grown tomatoes and larger tomatoes are lower in vitamin C compared to field grown smaller varieties. The more light that a tomato is exposed to during ripening, the higher the vitamin C content becomes, presumably because the antioxidants protect the fruit from damage by light.  

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Murneek, A. E., Maharg, L. G. and Wittwer, S. H. 1954. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of tomatoes and apples. University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. Research Bulletin 568

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Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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