Lycopene is known for its many health benefits. It has been correlated to reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and macular degenerative disease. But a common misconception is that lycopene is associated with the red pigment of tomatoes.  However, yellow tomatoes also contain lycopene and recent studies such as one published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition suggest that the benefits of the antioxidant may be greater when consumed via yellow tomatoes.  The reason why can be explained by the stereochemistry of the molecule-something I have studied in my organic and biochemistry courses at Columbia University.

Red tomatoes contain trans-lycopene and yellow tomatoes contain tetra-cis-lycopene. The antioxidant is equally potent in both forms but the human body is more readily able to absorb lycopene in the cis-form. This study supports that tangerine tomatoes are a better source of lycopene because your body is able to get more usable lycopene from them.

Yellow tomatoes taste great raw.  Cutting up a handful and mixing with avocados, pomegranate seeds with a touch of sea salt and splash of olive oil makes for a quick and delicious healthy snack. But the health benefits may be greater when eating them cooked as recent research shows that heating tomatoes enhances their anti-carcinogenic powers. Growing up in an Italian household, my favorite food is pasta and unlike Italian-American marinara sauces, which heavily rely on canned tomatoes, require adding sugar and take hours to cook; authentic Italian sauce is made from fresh tomatoes and should take no longer than 30 minutes to make. I prefer to use fresh yellow cherry tomatoes because of the naturally sweeter flavor. I highly suggest that you try it. Troppo buono!