BY SOLA OGUNDIPE
Widely regarded as the world’s most healthy food, the tomato has an enviable pedigree. One of the most important secrets in tomato is lycopene – a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red colour of many tomatoes.
Tomatoes are widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, including, of course, their oftentimes-rich concentration of lycopene. Researchers have recently found an important connection between lycopene, its antioxidant properties, bone health and others.
People who have diets rich in tomatoes, which contain lycopene, appear to have a lower risk of various cancers notably of the prostate and breast. Lycopene helps prevent prostate, breast, lung, and stomach cancers by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
According to the Food For Life Cancer Project entitled “How Lycopene Helps Protect Against Cancer:, Lycopene is one of the free radical-fighting antioxidants.
Free radicals are damaging molecules that float around in the body disrupting cells and promoting disease. Antioxidants, such as lycopene, destroy free radicals so they can’t attach to cells and wreak havoc on the immune system.
It has long been known that postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
But new research suggests that adopting a diet rich in tomatoes may reduce this risk. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism shows how analysis of 70 postmenopausal women for 20 weeks demonstarted the potential of lycopene to reduce breast cancer risk.
In the stydy, for the first 10 weeks, the women were required to follow a tomato-rich diet. This involved consuming a minimum of 25 mg of lycopene each day. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.
For the remaining 10 weeks, the women followed a soy-rich diet. This required them to consume at least 40 g of soy protein daily. All women were asked to refrain from eating any soy or tomato products 2 weeks prior to each diet.
Postmenopausal women showed a 9 percent increase in levels of adiponectin – a fat and blood sugar regulating hormone – after following a tomato-rich diet for 10 weeks, lowering their risk of breast cancer.
Results revealed that when the women followed the tomato-rich diet, they showed a 9 percent increase in their levels of adiponectin – a hormone that plays a part in the regulation of fat and blood sugar levels. However, when the women followed the soy-rich diet, this led to a reduction in adiponectin levels. Low adiponectin levels are linked to increased risk of obesity and insulin resistance.
Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits.
Based on this data, it is believed regular consumption of at least the daily recommended servings of tomatoeswould promote breast cancer prevention in an at-risk population.