When researchers discovered the health benefits of lycopene in the early 90s, the tomato’s reputation for being a healing food rose considerably. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that fights to protect cells. In fact, researchers found that lycopene was particularly good at preventing cancer cells from multiplying and spreading.
RECOMMENDED: Lycopene and Cancer Prevention
Now, a recent study seeks to widen the scope of the cancer-killing power of lycopene to include other cancers and other types of diseases. It all has to do with how lycopene interacts with DNA. As you move through a typical day, your DNA is constantly exposed to something called “reactive oxygen species” (or ROS). This spontaneously happens during normal oxygen metabolism. ROS can cause temporary and permanent modifications in various cellular components, such as lipids, proteins and DNA. Once these modifications are made, disease is often the result. It was at this point that the research team decided to see if they could demonstrate that a dietary supplementation of antioxidants could reduce oxidative DNA damage — and ultimately help in the prevention of cancer and other diseases.
The food they chose to use as a dietary supplement of antioxidants was none other than tomato juice. A study was designed to address whether tomato juice protects against ROS induced by extensive physical exercise in untrained individuals.
Fifteen healthy participants performed 20 minutes of physical exercise at 80% of maximum pulse using an ergometer bicycle. Blood samples were taken before and one hour after the exercise. The procedure was repeated after five weeks with a daily intake of 150 milliliters of tomato juice. This was followed by a five-week wash-out period and another five week period that involved the daily intake of tomato juice. The results indicated that a daily intake of tomato juice, equal to 15 milligrams of lycopene per day, for five weeks significantly reduced the amount of ROS damage after extensive physical exercise.
The researchers concluded that the study data strongly suggest that tomato juice has a potential antioxidant effect and may reduce elevated levels of ROS caused by oxidative stress.
The next time you’re thirsty after exercising and you feel like something other than water, why not drink a glass of tomato juice? You’ll be getting a dose of lycopene that could help fight off cancer and other serious diseases.