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Tomatoes Improve Health ~ [Issue 0899-4]  Wellness Weekly
 Aug 24, 1999 20:35 PDT 

There is no question today that antioxidants are a significant part
of the important nutrients we need today to support our health. One
of the more newly understood of these antioxidants is lycopene. This
much hailed phytonutrient is found in tomatoes. It is actually the
substance that gives tomatoes their red color and, like
beta-carotene, is a member of the carotenoid family.

Research on dietary lycopene suggests that it may lower the risk of
heart attack. A study of over 1,300 European men indicates that those
who consumed the most lycopene from foods had about half the risk of
heart attack. A five-year study of 48,000 men found that those eating
ten servings per week of cooked tomato products had the lowest risk
of prostate cancer. Believe it or not, their risk was only one-third
that of men eating less than two servings per week. Other studies
suggest that lycopene may play a major role in reducing the risk of
other cancers, including cancers of the breast, rectum and colon.

And there's more. While fresh tomatoes are loaded with lycopene,
cooking them makes it even easier for your body to use their
lycopene. Apparently, as the tomatoes break down when they are
cooked, the lycopene is more easily absorbed. Including a little fat
will help, too, especially monosaturated fat like olive oil.

It is not known exactly how much lycopene one should consume each
day, but based on recent studies, you would probably want to eat up
to ten servings of tomatoes per week. Of course, supplementing for it
makes sense, especially for those who don't like tomatoes or who just
don't consume enough of them. (See
http://www.aomega.com/ahs/p1030a.htm for information about a
supplement that contains lycopene).
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