Substances added to foods to prevent the oxygen present in the air from causing undesirable changes in flavor or color. BHA, BHT, and tocopherols are examples of antioxidants.
Some naturally occurring antioxidants are beta carotene, vitamins C and E. It is believed that they may destroy free radicals, which may accelerate aging and contribute to the formation of cancers. Antioxidants are also believed to keep 'bad' cholesterol (LDL) from being oxidized. LDL may contribute to the buildup of arterial plaque, a major cause of heart disease.
Tomatoes are a natural source of the antioxidant 'lycopene', which may help prevent heart disease. According to scientists, more lycopene is absorbed by the body from cooked tomatoes than from fresh tomatoes. 1/2 cup of canned tomatoes delivers more than 3 times the lycopene as found in one medium raw tomato.
Hunt’s Tomatoes and Ketchum Global Research Network survey Oct. 2007