Tomatoes have been making world news headlines this past week, for all the right reasons.
It seems the fruit is not only a delicious and versatile ingredient for cooking, but may also be the answer to whats ailing you or your loved one.
Three studies published in a matter of days have shown that the potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, lycopene:
– lowers women’s risk of kidney cancer;
A study published by Live Science found women who consumed higher levels of lycopene on average had a 45 per cent lower risk of developing kidney cancer. “The amount of lycopene in the diet of the women who consumed lycopene at the highest level in the study would be equal to eating four tomatoes daily,” the study’s researcher Won Jin Ho, a medical resident at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, was quoted as saying in the report.
– relieves the symptoms associated with damaged arteries;
Researchers at the University of Cambridge trialled a ‘tomato pill’ in participants known to have heart disease and found that it improved the functioning of blood vessels. The lycopene supplement improved widening of blood vessels by more than 50 per cent. constriction of blood vessels is a key factor that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. “We’ve shown quite clearly that lycopene improves the function of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease patients,” study researchers said.
– even boosts fertility in men;
A report by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, which looked at several other studies around the world, found lycopene improved the sperm count, sperm swimming speed and reduced the number of abnormal sperm. Researchers say the findings followed a general pattern where lycopene benefited mens reproductive organs. other studies have also shown that the antioxidant reduces disease of the prostate – the gland which makes sperm – and may slow down and even halt the progress of prostate cancer.
All of the recently published studies show that lycopene, the key nutrient that gives tomatoes their distinct bright red hue, could be coming to a pharmacy near you in the form of a supplement in the near future.
Hardly surprising considering researchers have been finding more and more evidence to suggest that a Mediterranean-style diet is beneficial for our health and wellbeing. Tomatoes as well as other high-lycopene packed fruits and vegetables feature predominantly in the Mediterranean diet. Interestingly the the potency of lycopene appears to be enhanced when it is pureed, and when in the presence of olive oil – also a staple of a Mediterranean diet.
But if eating four tomatoes a day doesn’t sound appealing to you, apricots, watermelon, papaya as well as pink grapefruit are also packed with high-levels of lycopene. Some food for thought to consider next time you pop down to your local grocer or farmers market.