The return of the ‘red eye’

You may soon be adding a two glasses of tomato juice to that healthy regimen of an apple a day. And for those who like a little tomato juice in their beer (“red-eye”), the news couldn’t be better. Research at the University of Toronto shows that just two glasses of tomato juice a day can lower the risk of developing atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, cervix and digestive tract.

The results of a recent study by Dr. Venket Rao (“Dr. Tomato”) are published in this month’s issue of Lipids Journal. The research shows that lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomato products, prevents oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

“Studies convincingly indicate that higher levels of oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol) are associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis,” says Dr. Tomato. “But our study proved that lycopene is a very effective anti-oxidant in the fight against LDL cholesterol oxidation and its associated health risks. Our research showed that the tissue and ser levels of lycopene are inversely related to the risk of developing coronary heart disease.”

The effective lycopene level can be achieved by drinking just two glasses of tomato juice a day. Rao says previous research has confirmed that the absorption of lycopene from tomatoes is actually enhanced by processing them into juice, sauces and paste.

Tomato giant H.J. Heinz Company has established The Lycopene Project, a global initiative to identify and fund further research into the health benefits of lycopene consumption. The company sponsors ongoing research at the University of Toronto and the American Health Foundation.