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March 2 2011 12:00 AM

Eating more tomatoes and tomato products can make people healthier and decrease the risk of conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, according to a review article the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, (published by SAGE).

Of all the non-starchy vegetables, Americans eat more tomatoes and tomato products than any others. Researchers Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS, and Kristin Reimers, PhD, RD of the National Center for Food Safety & Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology and ConAgra Foods, Inc., looked at the current research to discover the role tomato products play in health and disease risk reduction.

The researchers found that tomatoes are the biggest source of dietary lycopene; a powerful antioxidant that, unlike nutrients in most fresh fruits and vegetables, has even greater bioavailability after cooking and processing. Tomatoes also contain other protective mechanisms, such as antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory functions. Research has additionally found a relationship between eating tomatoes and a lower risk of certain cancers as well as other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, ultraviolet light-induced skin damage, and cognitive dysfunction.

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