The tomato has been somewhat of a poster child for lowering prostate cancer risk. Tomato products contain an amazing substance called “lycopene” that could literally kill cancer cells before they spread. Now researchers have been looking into whether tomatoes are good for your heart.
It stands to reason that a vegetable that’s great for cancer-prevention is also likely to be beneficial for the heart. But how? Few studies have examined the potential cardiovascular benefits of tomato-based food products, so Harvard researchers decided to do exactly that. They examined the association between tomato-based food product intake and coronary biomarkers in women.
Tomato-based food products included tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce, and pizza. A total of 27,261 women aged 45 years and older who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer provided data for the study. The research team took blood samples from the participants and measured for lipids, lipoproteins, hemoglobin, C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and creatinine.
Tomato-based food product intake was modest, with 84% of women consuming less than a serving per day, but the researchers noted that those with greater intake had healthier lifestyle and dietary habits. The research team found that women who consumed 1.5 servings of tomato-based food products a week had significant improvements in their total cholesterol levels and in their HDL (“good”) cholesterol ratio. The researchers concluded that women consuming less than one serving a week of tomato were 31% less likely to have elevated total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and hemoglobin, while women who ate 1.5 servings a week were 66% less likely to have those same levels. That’s a big difference for half a serving more per week!
Try to get two servings a week of tomato-based products into your diet. This shouldn’t be too hard if you switch between tomato juice, pasta sauce, salsa, and tomato soup. Tomatoes are a great addition to your diet and these tomato-based products will net you even more of tomato’s super-nutrient, lycopene.
For more information on this powerful fruit, read the article The Humble Tomato May Be a Cancer-Fighting Superstar.