Scott Bauer/USDA ARS
A new study shows that growing tomatoes in salt water causes them to produce higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and dihydrolipoic and chlorogenic acids. Luckily for us, these compounds make the tomatoes tastier, too.
Researchers report that growing cherry tomatoes in salty water can make them tastier and richer in antioxidants. Using diluted seawater to irrigate the tomato plants puts an environmental stress on the plants that causes them to produce higher levels of certain compounds in an attempt to cope with the stressful conditions.
Happily for humans, those same compounds are thought to have healthful effects when consumed, and some of them improve the flavor of the tomatoes as well.
Riccardo Izzo, a professor of agriculture at the University of Pisaone in Italy, talks about the findings, which researchers hope will encourage the use of slightly brackish water in tomato agriculture, extending precious supplies of fresh water.