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Eating Tomatoes May Lower Cancer Risk

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Updated April 27, 2014

Tomatoes
Daniel Aniszewski

Red tomatoes are popular for their flavor and versatility, but their health benefits are good too. In fact, it's possible that eating tomatoes may help reduce your cancer risk.

A Harvard study done in 1995 showed men who ate a lot of tomatoes appeared to have a lower risk of prostate cancer. This effect is largely attributed to lycopene -- which is related to vitamin A -- but, some studies suggest a synergistic effect of the vitamins also found in tomatoes. 

According to the American Cancer Society, there is strong evidence that lycopene-rich foods may help protect against lung and stomach cancer. There is also evidence that lycopene may help prevent several other forms of cancer as well. 

Beyond Cancer Prevention

Studies indicate that people with low levels of lycopene in their bodies may have a higher risk of heart disease. Lycopene may decrease inflammation and reduce LDL cholesterol, both of which may help keep your heart healthier.

Tomatoes are the kind of superfood I really like. They're easy to find, easy to prepare and cooking or processing them doesn't reduce the health benefit you may get from eating them.  

Recipes Featuring Tomatoes

Tomatoes Provencal with Anchovy
Ingredients include tomatoes, anchovies, bread crumbs and olive oil. Classic French cooking.

Artichoke Hearts in Tomato Rice
Low in calories and easy to prepare - all you need is a can of stewed tomatoes, a jar of artichokes, green onions and instant rice (add a little fiber with brown rice).

Corn, Tomato & Basil Salad
This recipe uses raw corn and tomatoes so it's super fresh and and nutritious.

Sources:

American Cancer Society. "Lycopene." Updated 11/2008.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Lycopene: an Antioxidant for Good Health." Published 2002.

Basu A, Imrhan V. "Tomatoes versus lycopene in oxidative stress and carcinogenesis: conclusions from clinical trials." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):295-303.

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