In a small study scientists at the US government's chief laboratory found that two weeks of gazpacho consumption boosted vitamin C in the blood by more than 25 per cent.
Food makers looking to grab a slice of the burgeoning functional food market are constantly looking at new product formulations that place health positioned ingredients squarely in the recipes. Recent research from UK research firm Mintel forecasts that in the UK alone the current £835 million functional market will rise to £1.7 billion in the next five years.
Antonio Martin and colleagues at the human nutrition research centre on ageing at Tufts University in Boston, fed 12 healthy volunteers - six men and six women - two bowls (17 ounces, total) of soup made from tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olive oil, onions and garlic every day for two weeks.
Blood samples for each volunteer were taken before soup consumption and on the seventh and fourteenth days of the study. Starting on the seventh day, levels of vitamin C in volunteers' blood samples were found to have increased by 27 per cent in men and 22 per cent in women. The scientists report that they remained elevated for the rest of the study.
Stress molecules measured during the study are secreted by the body as a normal response to stress. But continuous high blood levels of these chemicals increase vulnerability to illness due to inflammation and oxidative stress.
The researchers report that one of the stress molecules measured, uric acid, was reduced by 18 per cent in the male volunteers and by 8 per cent in the females. High blood levels of uric acid, which causes gout, have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Three of the other stress molecules measured were also found to be significantly decreased after soup consumption.
Full findings from the study are published in the November issue of the Journal of Nutrition .