"An apple a day keeps the doctor away, the old saying goes. But it's probably time to acknowledge a tomato a day is even better, " says Dr. Roger Manson. "New research is continually expanding our understanding of the positive health effects of tomatoes."
Dr. Mason says that lycopene, an organic component that turns the tomato red, is the key ingredient that helps reduce incidence of certain cancers and heart disease.
"Lycopene is an antioxidant, a substance that protects the body from cell and tissue damage."
Dr. Mason explains, "Better yet, it's not just a raw tomato that scores high on the health charts. Processed tomato sauces, used in pizza and on the spaghetti, may even better at warding off some diseases than the tomato slices in your salad. This means that the tomato in the forms people already like to eat the most is a tremendous health tool."
In fact, cooked tomatoes contain up to 2.5 times as much lycopene. "Everybody thinks if you process food, you lower the nutritional value. But as it turns out, that is not true for tomatoes," Dr. Mason said.
Five servings of tomatoes a week in any form...canned, raw, cooked, in soups, sauce, ketchup, or juice...provides enough lycopene to cut the risk of cancer and heart disease in half and to improve the health of lungs, eyes, and the skin, report scientists at Ohio State University.