It would seem that very soon the old adage of “An apple a day will keep the doctor away” can be replaced with the common tomato. Why? Tomatoes are rich in a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Antioxidants are extremely important because they prevent and even repair damaged cells in your body. There have been recent studies that have convincing results that lycopene also can prevent prostate cancer and heart disease.
One such study, conducted by the University of North Carolina, compared the fat samples of 1,379 men who had suffered from heart attacks with those of healthy men. This study concluded that those men with high levels of lycopene were half as likely to have a heart attack as those with lower levels. Another Harvard study of over 47,000 men found that as levels of lycopene in their blood stream rose, their risks of prostate cancer were considerably reduced.
Preliminary research has also suggested that lycopene may be linked to preventing macular degenerative disease which strikes nearly 1.75 million people in the United States.
With such supportive research as a backbone, it indeed seems a good reason to change the slogan. Do your family members have a history of prostate cancer or heart disease? Then perhaps it is time to take a good look at your diet and incorporate foods that are rich in antioxidants such as lycopene.
Although lycopene is most prevalent in tomatoes, it can also be found in rosehip, guava, pink grapefruit and watermelon. However, the tomato is the most common source but only in certain forms. For example, a plain tomato fresh off the vine has very little actual lycopene per serving (only approximately 8mg). The process of cooking a tomato and subsequently raising its temperature actually makes the lycopene easier to absorb into your liver, lungs, prostate gland and skin. The most efficient absorption rates come from drinking tomato juice at 22.9mg per serving with a close second found in spaghetti sauce at 20mg per serving.