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Diets Rich in Tomato Products Significantly Improve Cholesterol Profiles

A high dietary intake of tomato products significantly reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels, while also increasing LDL's resistance to oxidation (damage by free radicals) in a study involving 21 healthy subjects published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Study volunteers followed a diet free of tomato products for 3 weeks, followed by a high tomato diet (13.5 ounces tomato juice and 1 ounce tomato ketchup daily). At the end of the high tomato diet period, study participants' total cholesterol levels had dropped an average of 5.9%, with LDL cholesterol levels reduced by 12.9%. Blood samples also showed increases in lycopene, beta-carotene and gamma-carotene-antioxidant carotenoids found in tomatoes-plus a 13% increase in the ability of circulating LDL cholesterol to resist oxidation. Br J Nutr. 2007 Dec;98(6):1251-8.

While drinking 13.5 ounces of plain tomato juice every day may seem a bit challenging, enjoying a cup of tomato juice with lunch, a cup of hot tomato juice into which an ounce of tomato ketchup has been stirred along with some freshly ground pepper as an afternoon "soup" break, and/or a Virgin Mary (the alcohol-free counterpart to the Blood Mary) before dinner would provide some taste diversity along with the amount of tomato products effective in the research.

Silaste ML, Alfthan G, Aro A, et al. Tomato juice decreases LDL cholesterol levels and increases LDL resistance to oxidation. Br J Nutr. 2007 Dec;98(6):1251-8. PMID: 17617941