Big beautiful red tomatoes are as luscious and healthful as they look…
Talk About a Healing Food!
Tomatoes are loaded with the remarkable phytonutrient lycopene, a member of a group of nutrients known as carotenoids found in many orange and red foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, watermelon, and winter squash. Research shows that lycopene possesses significant healing properties for many ailments including prostate cancer, heart disease and skin problems.
- In a study published in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that women with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood reduced their risk of heart disease by a whopping 50%.
- A 2009 Korean study published in the journal Atherosclerosis reveals that participants with higher levels of lycopene display lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker used to measure inflammation, now linked to many chronic diseases — from arthritis to diabetes.
- In the same study, people with high blood levels of lycopene also displayed the lowest levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, which contributes to hardening of the arteries.
- And research published in the British Journal of Nutrition finds that a high dietary intake of tomato products reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels.
But despite all these positive healing qualities…
Danger Is Lurking in Processed Tomato Products
Most of the lycopene we consume comes from tomato products such as tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauces. Fortunately, the extraordinary benefits of this nutrient do not dissipate during the cooking of tomato products – in fact, they become even more concentrated in these processed products.
The bad news is that many, if not most, tomato products come to us in cans. And these cans are usually lined with the “controversial” plastic, bisphenol A (BPA).
The “controversy” results from manufactures’ success in confusing the facts (and consumers) for many years – despite strong evidence that BPA is indeed harmful.
- BPA is a hormone-disrupting synthetic estrogen that even at very low doses mimics estrogen and has been linked to an array of health problems including prostate and breast cancer, early onset of puberty, obesity, hyperactivity, lowered sperm count, miscarriage, diabetes, and altered immune system in animal studies.
- A recent study by the Environment California Research and Policy Center warned that BPA was leaching through plastic baby bottles at toxic levels.
- The Center for Health, Environment & Justice in New York City tested canned foods and found BPA in 92% of the food that they tested. Project coordinator Mike Schade said, "Potential exposure to BPA, not just from one can, but from meals you prepare over the course of a day with canned food, can actually expose consumers to potentially harmful levels of BPA."
- More than 93% of the general population has some BPA in their bodies, primarily from exposure through food contamination and other preventable exposures.
Nevertheless, BPA has escaped a ban, which would remove it from our food chain.
But Not So In Canada
Recently, the Canadian government officially agreed, concluding after two years of study, that PBA constitutes “a danger in Canada to human life or health.” Consequently, Environment Minister Jim Prentice ordered businesses across Canada to find ways to avert the release of BPA as an industrial waste within 60 days.
It comes as no surprise that this decision is opposed by The American Chemistry Council, which states that Canada “will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public.”
Yes, let’s not alarm or confuse consumers about any dangers in our food supply. What we don’t know won’t hurt us, right?
Let’s give a round of applause for the Canadian government’s courageous protection of their citizens from BPA – and hope our own EPA, FDA, and USDA will soon follow their lead.
To light a fire under our government, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a suit this summer against the FDA for failing to ban the use of BPA in food containers. You can support the NRDC effort to ban this nasty toxin in the US. Many companies already have responded to consumer concern and are adding “BPA-Free” to their labels.
How to Protect Yourself Now
Currently, BPA is found in wide variety of products, including the lining of liquid infant formula cans, soda or beer cans, fruit or vegetable cans, as well as consumer products made from polycarbonate plastics, including baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable water bottles.
You can protect yourself by avoiding these products and containers.
The great news for tomato-lovers who want the healing power of lycopene is that many tomato products are sold in glass containers that have no BPA lining. In addition, you can also purchase fresh tomatoes in farmer’s markets and preserve them in glass canning jars for year around use.
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