Research Cites Positive Impact

Research Cites Positive Impact Of Tomato-Based Foods On Lungs and Vision

Taken from the Food Institute Report, April 16, 2001

Tomato-based foods and tomatoes may reduce the risk of damage to the lungs caused by environmental pollutants, revealed preliminary findings from research presented on Apr. 11 at an international scientific symposium “On the Role of Tomato Products in Carotenoids and Disease Prevention.” This study and others presented at the symposium, sponsored by the American Health Foundation, point to a variety of new potential benefits from the consumption of tomato-based foods including possible protection against age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other diseases of the eye.

A pilot study conducted at the Environmental Protection Agency in Chapel Hill, NC, showed a 12% increase in lung lycopene levels and a 20% decrease in oxidative damage to DNA in lung cells within two weeks time among people who consumed 12-ounce servings of vegetable juice cocktail in addition to supplementing vitamins C and E. Oxidative stress to the lungs is associated with high levels of ozone in the atmosphere, one of the damaging impacts of air pollution.

Preliminary, new information presented by Frederick Khachik, Ph. D., University of Maryland, suggests that Carotenoids, particularly lycopene, may protect the eye against oxidative damage and thereby play a critical role in visual function. Dr. Khachik’s research builds on the established knowledge that lutein and zeaxanthin are the two main dietary Carotenoids in ocular tissues and may provide protection against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in individuals 65 and older. The identification of lycopene and a diverse range of dietary Carotenoids as well as other nutrients found in tomato-based foods may work in concert with lutein and zeaxanthin to provide protection against AMD and other visual disorders.