Tomatoes have a powerful association with health and are seen as the star ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, research has shown.
Carotenoid experts Lycored surveyed 329 consumers who were presented with a list of 14 fruit and vegetables and asked to pick the five they most associated with health – and green leafy vegetables, chosen by 77% of respondents, topped the poll.
Tomatoes were picked by 74%, ahead of onions, garlic and leeks (54%); citrus fruits (54%); and cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli (50%). More than half (52%) of respondents said tomatoes were among the five fruit and vegetables they would be most likely to describe as a “superfood”.
When they were asked which fruit and vegetables they most associated with the Mediterranean diet, 91% of consumers named tomatoes, ahead of peppers (81%); onions, garlic and leeks (76%); and citrus fruits (65%).
Respondents were also shown two images and asked which they most associated with the Mediterranean diet. The first, which featured tomatoes as well as olives and olive oil, was picked by 87%. The second, which pictured olives, olive oil, fish and nuts, but no tomatoes, was chosen by only 13%.
“Our research confirms both the wellness appeal of tomatoes and their status as the star of the Mediterranean Diet,” said Zev Ziegler, head of marketing (Health) at Lycored.
“This powerful association with one of the biggest dietary trends of our times boosts their potential in products for health-conscious consumers. Given their popularity with supplement users, and their wide range of health benefits, tomatoes deserve to feature in health products much more than they currently do.”
Lycored is a global leader in natural carotenoids for dietary supplement products. Its proprietary tomato complex, Lyc-O-Mato TM, includes lycopene and a range of other phytonutrients from tomatoes.