Surprising Fruit Promotes Leanness, Prevents Stroke
We’ve all heard the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But it turns out apples aren’t the only fruits with many benefits. Research has shown that tomatoes can help us to maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels, protect against cancer, and dramatically reduce the risk of stroke. But in order to gain the benefits you have to know the right ways to enjoy tomatoes. Not all ways provide the same benefits. Read on to learn how.
Lose Fat With Tomatoes
A recent study revealed that participants who consumed 10 ounces of tomato juice per day experienced significant fat loss in 8 weeks. On average the participants lost a centimeter from their waists and one percent body fat. Here’s what make the findings really interesting. The participants not only ate no less than usual. They actually ate more. Neither did they exercise more than usual. Something about the tomato juice seems to have produced the changes.
The fat loss was not the only change the researchers found, though. The participants also had a reduction in cholesterol. And they also experienced a dramatic decrease in body-wide inflammation. Inflammation is a marker for many diseases, so a reduction in inflammation means more than just feeling a little better. It also means a reduction in the risk of developing diseases.
There were a few participants who did not see a reduction in body fat. However, all of the participants experienced a reduction in cholesterol and inflammation.
The researchers wanted to know what it was about the tomato juice that was able to produce these impressive changes. What they determined was that the most likely cause was a substance called lycopene which is a nutrient found in tomatoes.
The Many Benefits of Lycopene
Researchers have been studying lycopene for a while. And the benefits are impressive.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant. That means it protects the body against all kinds of stresses. Not only that, but researchers from Harvard say that lycopene may be a very special type of antioxidant. It may be able to protect cells better than its more famous relatives like vitamin C and beta carotene.
Lycopene has been shown to lower the risk of many types of cancer as well. And of particular interest to us men is that lycopene is powerful protection against prostate cancer.
A recent Finnish study found that lycopene reduces the risk of a stroke by almost 60 percent! The study was aimed at finding out if antioxidants prevent stroke. It turns out that most do not. Not vitamin C and not vitamin E, nor beta carotene. Lycopene alone protects against stroke.
And there is a great deal more promising research being conducted on lycopene now as well, indicating that it may be helpful in all kinds of inflammation, various diseases, and in boosting immunity.
How To Eat More Lycopene
Lycopene from food has been shown to be very powerful. Lycopene from supplements, on the other hand, has not. So in order to increase your lycopene intake, aim to get it from food.
How much lycopene is needed? That’s a difficult question to answer for certain. But experts suggest that 10 mg of lycopene per day is likely enough to keep the doctor away.
Now, tomatoes aren’t the only source of lycopene, but it is one of the few good sources of the nutrient. A whole pink or red grapefruit provides about 3 grams of lycopene. And a slice of watermelon supplies about 10 grams of lycopene. Plus the tropical fruits guava and papaya are each good sources of the nutrient. But just 1 cup of tomato juice offers up a whopping 22 grams of the nutrient!
Still, not all tomatoes are equal. Or, rather, not all forms of tomato are equal. That’s because lycopene in tomatoes is released by heat. So raw tomatoes provide only small amounts. For example, a slice of a raw tomato provides only about one half of a gram of lycopene. So the best sources of lycopene from tomatoes are from cooked tomatoes.
Of course you can cook tomatoes yourself. But canned tomatoes or canned tomato juice are both excellent sources that are convenient. Studies have found that canned tomato puree, tomato sauce, and other forms of canned tomatoes are all excellent sources. In fact, only about half a cup of tomato puree provides 27 grams of lycopene.
Is lycopene a miracle nutrient that will cure all that ails you? Of course not. But the results of studies thus far show that it is a very impressive nutrient that offers a lot of benefits. By regularly consuming at least 10 grams of lycopene daily, you can protect yourself from weight gain, high cholesterol, oxidative damage, cancer, and stroke.
Of course you can’t expect that chugging tomato juice will protect you if you aren’t otherwise taking care of yourself. You still need to eat well, sleep enough, get out in the sun, and enjoy life. But lycopene can offer you additional protection.
On days when you eat watermelon or a large amount of pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya, you’ll be covered. But every other day, including some cooked tomato in your diet is a smart way to ensure you eat enough lycopene to get the benefits. A cup of tomato juice or a generous serving of tomato sauce on pasta are easy and delicious ways to eat enough of this important nutrient.