Tomatoes Cooked Vs. Raw

We all know that tomatoes are packed with nutrition. Does a tomato become healthier when cooked? What are the nutrition of raw vs. cooked tomatoes?

It is generally believed that eating raw vegetables is healthier than eating cooked ones. But this is not true for all the vegetables.

Tomatoes deep red colour is due to lycopene.
Tomatoes deep red colour is due to lycopene.

Cooked tomatoes better than raw ones? Cooked Tomatoes Health Benefits

Some vegetables like streamed or boiled asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini and many other vegetables provide us more antioxidants than raw. The research has shown that boiling and steaming better preserves antioxidants than frying.

Lycopene, the red pigment cancer fighting content is found predominantly in tomatoes and other rosy fruits such as watermelon, pink guava, red bell pepper and papaya. The lycopene in tomatoes varies depending upon their variety, ripeness and the processing methods like steaming, boiling and frying.

Research has shown that, eating cooked tomatoes is more nutritious than eating them raw.

Cornell University Scientists reported [1] that heat used in cooking the tomatoes increases their nutritional value by increasing their level of lycopene that can be absorbed by the body. However, it also reduces the amount of vitamin C in tomatoes.

In the study, the tomato samples which were heated to 88 degrees Celsius (190.4 degrees F ) for 15 minutes, their beneficial trans-lycopene content increased by 171% and the vitamin C content decreased by 15% as compared to raw uncooked tomatoes. The lycopene in tomato is absorbed more efficiently when cooked.

One slice of raw tomato contains approximately 515 micrograms lycopene, while 1 tablespoon of tomato paste contains 6,900 micrograms of lycopene, according to Harvard Medical School. It means that tomato paste contains many times more lycopene than raw tomatoes.

These findings indicate that thermal processing enhances the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing the bioaccessible lycopene content and total antioxidant activity.

Why cooked tomato is healthier than raw ones?

The reason is not surprising. The higher water content of raw tomatoes reduces total lycopene concentration. Raw tomatoes contain approximately 94.5% water by weight. In the processing of making tomato paste, water is reduced, so lycopene becomes more concentrated.

The reduction in vitamin C in cooked tomatoes should not be a concern, because you can get vitamin C from other vegetables and fruits, but the benefits of tomatoes come more from the cancer-fighting lycopene.


  1. Veronica Dewanto , Xianzhong Wu , Kafui K. Adom and Rui Hai Liu, Thermal Processing Enhances the Nutritional Value of Tomatoes by Increasing Total Antioxidant Activity, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf0115589