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Healthy Heart Reports

Lycopene, The New Heart Attack Preventer

Seventy-two studies show that the people who eat large amounts of tomatoes are at reduced risk for developing heart attacks (1) and cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, stomach, pancreas, colon, esophagus, mouth and cervix (2). That doesn't mean that you should eat tomatoes with every meal.

Countless numbers of plants have been on earth for 3.5 billion years. Almost all have become extinct. The few that have survived contain chemicals that protect them from insects, bacteria, fungi and even animals and man. Over the years, men have learned which plants are poisonous to man and which are not. However, plants that are harmless in average doses can be harmful when eaten all the time. So you should eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables for their lycopene, but you should not eat one fruit all the time.

Lycopene prevents cancer by protecting cells from oxidants. It helps prevent heart attacks by preventing the bad LDL cholesterol from being converted to oxidized LDL that forms plaques in arteries. It's antioxidant properties also may help to prevent sunburns. Lycopene is found in tomatoes and other brightly colored vegetables, such as watermelon and red grapefruits, but it is absorbed in greater quantities from cooked tomatoes, rather than from fresh ones. The best sources are tomato paste and sauce, and ketchup.

1) Lenore Kohlmeier et al. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. American Journal of Epidemiology October, 1997.

2) Giovanucci E et al. J of the National Cancer Institute February, 1999.


Copyright 1999
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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