A Tomato a Day?

Remember that old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away? Well, how about a tomato a day? Many researchers believe that tomatoes may contain key anti-cancer properties in the form of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.

Because the body cannot synthesize lycopene, we must consume it as part of a balanced diet if we are to reap its rewards. You'll find lycopene primarily in tomato products; other sources include watermelon, pink grapefruit, and apricots. To get cancer-protective benefits, researchers suggest consuming 5 to 10 servings of tomato-based products a week. Dietitians generally recommend fresh and whole foods as the best sources of nutrients but with lycopene, you'll get even more benefits if it the tomato has been cooked.

Lycopene is available in supplement form but most research has focused on its dietary consumption. For this reason, researchers are still unsure of the optimal dose and the risks vs. benefits of lycopene supplements. Your best bet is to consume lycopene-rich foods routinely. Spaghetti sauce and tomato soup, both rich in lycopene, are two worthwhile additions to your diet.