Here’s To Your Health

Registered Dietitian South Central Human Resource Agency Head Start

Scientists from the University of Illinois and Ohio State University have been tracing how tomato compounds help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in humans. Many men between 40 and 50 years of age develop early-stage prostate cancer, and it may continue to develop over 20 years. It’s important to reduce the growth of the tumor. If one can control this by diet, many lives could possibly be save.

Tomatoes contain a symphony of nutrients that may be responsible for their cancer-protective properties, including Vitamins A and C, fiber, and carotenoids, which give tomatoes their red, yellow, and orange colors. The most abundant carotenoid is lycopene, which has been linked with cancer protection. Tomatoes account for 80 per cent of lycopene in the American diet. Today about 75 per cent of the total U.S. tomato crop is processed into juice, canned tomatoes, sauces, paste and ketchup.

While earlier research has focused on prostate cancer prevention, newer studies are looking at early treatment and slowing the disease progression. Tomato products look very promising, according to John Erdman, PhD, professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois who’s been studying the effects of tomatoes on prostate cancer since the mid 1990s.

Erdman believes the cancer protection seen in tomatoes isn’t a mere result of lycopene. More effective benefits have been linked with the whole tomato, which contains a full range of carotenoids and nutrients. Research shows that single daily servings of processed tomato products produce significant increases of lycopene concentrations in the blood of healthy adults. Evidence indicates that the lycopene from processed tomatoes is more bioavailable than that of fresh tomatoes. The heat from processing breaks down the tomato cell walls and , therefore, increases the absorption of lycopene in the body.

An analysis including 11 case-control studies and 10 cohort studies indicated that those eating raw tomatoes regularly had an 11 per cent reduced rate of prostate cancer than nonfrequent users . of tomato products. Those with a high intake of cooked tomato products experienced a 19 per cent lower risk then those who rarely used tomato products. Using a lycopene supplement doesn’t seem to improve disease status, as measured by PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels.

While we have much more to learn about how tomatoes fight prostate cancer, most experts agree ( including the American Institute for Cancer Research) it’s a good idea to eat more tomatoes as part of an overall strategy to increase fruit and vegetable intake. This should be part of an overall health-promoting strategy that includes regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet with an abundance of plant foods, and limiting red meats. Eating 2 or 3 servings a week of tomatoes and tomato products appears to be a sufficient amount to possibly lower risk of prostate cancer.

Try this tomato-rich recipe! The recipe makes 3 large or 6 small servings. Each small serving contains 75 calories and 2 grams of protein.

Wash 3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes. Remove hard part of stem end. Cut into halves crosswise. Place in oiled baking dish, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grated cheese.  Cover with buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until tender,