HEALTH BENEFITS OF TOMATOES
Tomatoes reduce risk of damage to the lungs caused by ozone. It also affords possible protection against age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and other diseases of the eye. The carotenoid in tomatoes and the pigment that gives tomatoes their red color reduces risk of prostate cancer.
Tomatoes are one of the best sources for lycopine. Lycopine is an anti-oxidant that protects our body cells from oxidants that have been linked to cancer. Laboratory tests have shown that lycopene is twice as powerful as beta-carotene at neutralizing free radicals.
Eating tomatoes regularly may reduce the risk of prostate and several other cancers. Published research from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health have shown that eating tomatoes and tomato products may help men reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers carefully examined the full diet of 51,529 participants aged 40-75 years for more than 12 years. Men who consumed two-plus servings of tomato sauce per week had a 23% lower risk of total prostate cancer, and a 36% lower risk of metastatic prostate than participants who consumed less than one serving of tomato sauce per month. The findings appeared in the March 6, 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The benefit of tomatoes in curbing prostate cancer and several other cancers have been reported by several researchers prior to the publication of this study. For example, both the Health Professional Follow-up Study and the Physicians' Health Study from Harvard University had shown that tomato consumption might prevent significantly the risk of prostate cancer. Men who ate tomatoes 10 times a week reduced their risk for prostate cancer by almost half. All forms of tomato (raw, in ketchup, spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, soup, and salsa) had beneficial effect; however, tomatoes cooked in oil (such as in tomato sauce) appeared to be the most protective.
Tomatoes are also useful for those who are already diagnosed with the disease. Increased tomato consumption was found to be associated with a much less aggressive prostate cancer in men who were diagnosed with the disease. Tomatoes also reduce the risk for other types of cancers including lung, stomach, pancreatic, breast, cervical, colorectal, oral and esophageal cancers.
We do not know, for sure, how tomatoes hold off cancers. Many scientists believe that lycopenes, bioflavonoids that are closely related to beta carotene, present in tomatoes are natural cancer-fighting agents. Lycopenes give tomatoes its red color. Tomatoes are also rich in several nutrients including potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron, in addition to lycopene. It is also possible that complex interactions among multiple components present in tomatoes contribute to its anticancer properties.
It is recommended that we incorporate generous amounts of tomato in our diet. It is nutritious; it tastes good and it is good for us. We can also eat other fruits and vegetables high in lycopene such as pink grapefruit, guavas, and papayas. We should lower the amount of fatty foods in our diet. A high-fat diet has been linked to a higher risk of contracting cancer. We should couple a healthy diet with regular exercise. Studies have suggested that people who exercise regularly are at lower risk for cancer.