About The Buzz: Tomatoes are important for more than just the prostate?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tomato products, the humble staple foods relied upon by cultures across the world, provide important health benefits – beyond the reduced risk of prostrate cancer that you may have heard about.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Tomato products are the second most popular vegetable second only to potatoes. Because they are simple, economical, and delicious, they have important implications for improving the health of our nation. A recently commissioned analysis on the field of tomato health science reviewed nearly 650 studies on human health.1 The evidence confirms the following benefits for tomato products.
7 Health Benefits: Tomato Products
- Lycopene Bonus. Tomato products are rich in the powerful antioxidant group, carotenoids, which have been shown to inactivate free radicals, protect against cancer, and slow development of atherosclerosis. The most plentiful carotenoid is lycopene and tomato products are responsible for more than 80% of the lycopene in the U.S. diet. Research suggests that lycopene may be a big factor behind the health-protective effects of tomato products. Lycopene in processed tomatoes is much better absorbed than that of fresh tomatoes. In addition, the lycopene in tomatoes appears to have synergistic effects with other nutrients in foods.
- Prostate Cancer Protection. Research supports that eating lycopene-rich food sources like tomato products may help reduce the risk of some forms of cancer, such as digestive tract and pancreatic cancers, but the bulk of the cancer-protective evidence is linked with prostate cancer. According to a scientific analysis of cancer prevention that called upon more than 4,000 studies and reports, substantial evidence indicates eating tomato products and foods containing lycopene probably does protect against cancer, potentially decreasing risk of prostate cancer by 11%.2
- Protect Against Oxidative Stress. Eating foods rich in antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids, such as tomato products, is linked with reducing oxidative stress markers and the LDL-oxidation process—key in the development of cardiovascular disease.3
- Heart-health Benefits. Regular intake of tomato products has been consistently associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. In a study of nearly 40,000 middle-aged and older women, scientists discovered that higher levels of tomato-based products in the diet were linked with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.4
- Improves Cholesterol Levels. One of tomato products’ heart health benefits is improved lipid profiles, according to some studies. In a study including 21 healthy participants, those that consumed a three-week high-tomato diet experienced a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels.5
- Anti-Platelet Activity. Tomato products appear to have anti-platelet compounds that are concentrated in the yellow fluid around the seeds. These compounds appear to inhibit platelet aggregation, further protecting against cardiovascular disease.6
- Controls Blood Pressure. Low-sodium tomato products—naturally rich in potassium—have the perfect nutritional profile to fit into the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. Research is confirming that tomato products may aid in treating hypertension, or high blood pressure.7
Tomatoes are versatile and delicious. Try them in soups, chili, salsa, pasta, salads, and just about any other way that you like!
“Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.”
Washington DC: AICR, 2007
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