Tag Archives: tomatoes

Tomatoes, Lycopene and Prostate Cancer

TomatoI had the opportunity to write an article for this month’s issue of the Natural Medicine Journal about the connection between Lycopene and prevention of Prostate cancer. This is following results of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute earlier this year. The HPFS is an ongoing study of over 50,000 men who were between the ages of 40 and 75 at the beginning of the study in 1986. After nearly 30 years of following the dietary habits and health status of these men, they have found a distinct protective effect of consumption of foods that are high in lycopene.

Lycopene is a carotenoid, a class of compounds that often give plants a yellow, orange, or red color. The foods that are most common in the Western diet that are highest in lycopene are tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon. Processed tomato foods such as tomato paste and sauce are particularly high in lycopene because it becomes concentrated. Lycopene has the most potent antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids, and there have been many studies over the past several decades that have demonstrated the ability of lycopene to detoxify, prevent cell damage, and initiate death of cancer cells.

This current study is of particular interest to us because, from a prevention standpoint, it looks at whole foods instead of supplements, and it gives us a long-term look at a large number human subjects rather than animal or in-vitro models. The most significant finding in this study is that “men with the highest (cumulative) intake were half as likely to develop lethal prostate cancer compared with those with the lowest intake”. That is, the men who started eating foods with the highest amount of lycopene earliest in life were least likely to die of prostate cancer.

It is also important to note that these men who fared the best in the study seemed to have better habits overall. Those with the highest lycopene consumption “also consumed less alcohol, coffee and all three types of fats and slightly more fruits, vegetables, and dietary fiber”. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have also been generally found to be protective against cancers and prostate cancer specifically.

What is the take home message from this study? The best way to take care of your prostate is to eat fruits and vegetables, particularly those high in lycopene, and start early–the impact you will have will be so much more powerful now than making changes once a problem arises.

If you would like to see the full article in the Natural Medicine Journal Click Here

Source: Zu, Ke et al. Dietary Lycopene, Angiogenesis, and Prostate Cancer: A Prospective Study in the Prostate-Specific Antigen Era. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2014. 106 (2).

Happy Solstice! Tips for easy home gardening and what to do now!

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Hooray for March!  My favorite bipolar season.  In the past week we’ve had powder days at the ski resorts, hot days of rock climbing in shorts and a t-shirt, rain, sleet, and a foot of snow in my front yard.  We have been lucky and mother nature has been giving us some moisture in the past couple of months, so the garden is starting to awaken.  After the snow melted away this weekend, we discovered the garlic I planted in November is starting to poke out some green shoots.  This means it’s time to start thinking about planting.

I almost don’t need to even mention the health benefits of gardening.  Aside from getting the freshest, most nutrient packed foods that are grown exactly to your standards, gardening deepens our awareness of what’s in season (and consequently what foods are best for our bodies).  Having the kids help also encourages them to eat more fresh fruits and veggies and teaches them about where our food comes from.

If you haven’t done a lot of gardening, you live in a place with limited space, or you don’t have a lot of free time to spend in the dirt, here’s a quick list of things to try to optimize your production this year, plus a reminder of what you should be doing right now:

Plants with the best effort/output ratio:

Cherry tomatoes–these can be successful from indoor sprouting, buying a plant from the store, or direct seeding to a pot or garden.  Sun Golds are our family favorite for flavor and abundance.

radishes–Very satisfying for the impatient gardener.  Generally you can go from seed to salad in about 3 weeks

zucchini–if you have some room in the garden and a good water supply, zucchini wins for easy to grow and maximum poundage.

peas–if you have a place to trellis, peas are my kids’ favorite for direct snacking from the garden.

kale–One or two kale plants usually keeps my family eating greens (and kale chips!) from late may to late November.

Plants that are best for limited space:

potherbs: Plant a large pot on the back deck with oregano, basil, cilantro and thyme for added flavor to summer dinners.  Lavender and chives are also wonderful in pots because they come back year after year.

Cherry tomatoes–Especially if you get a “bush” variety, these are a great choice for pots.

strawberries–You can buy a hanging strawberry garden that will provide treats right from the patio.

baby greens–Many seed companies make a “garden mix” seed packet that you can harvest as they grow, or replant throughout the warm months for salads all season long.

 

Fun perennials that will come back each year:  These are all nice because with a bit of effort at the outset, you will have garden treats for years to come.

Rhubarb

Strawberries

Asparagus

Horseradish

Grapes

raspberries

mint

And here’s what you should be thinking about for your garden in March:

What to plant outdoors now:

Potatoes

onions

chives

carrots

radishes

kale

peas

spinach

lettuce

What to sprout now:

tomatoes

eggplant

cucumbers

peppers

 

Happy Solstice!  Enjoy!