Good thing they can’t patent tomatoes!
You know how the drug industry works: They’re not after the best treatments — just ones they can slap a patent on and then jack up the price by several thousand percent.
But an exciting study found that a key nutrient in tomatoes could be as effective as some of the world’s top-selling drugs when it comes to cholesterol control — and that has me wondering just how much a jar of red sauce would fetch if Big Pharma was in charge.
Pasta night could break the bank — and pizza might be worth its weight in gold.
In any case, Australian researchers examined data from 14 studies published over the past 55 years on lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in…
- pink grapefruit,
- and guava.
But nothing contains quite as much of this stuff as those tomatoes.
Tomatoes pack the most lycopene punch
At first, the researchers didn’t find anything worth getting excited over — overall, the studies showed no real effect on cholesterol from lycopene.
[GA_Rectnagle]But then they stumbled onto that old trick used to make nutrients look ineffective: dose.
Many of the studies just didn’t use enough lycopene to make a difference — and when the researchers excluded those and focused only on trials that involved 25 mg a day or more, they found a jaw-dropper: Lycopene slashed LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 10 percent.
None of the trials directly compared lycopene to statins, but maybe someone should give it a shot — because the researchers wrote in the journal Maturitas that the effect was comparable to low-dose statins.
“Bad” cholesterol and blood pressure plummeted
In addition, the four studies that measured blood pressure found an average drop of 5.6 points in the systolic (top) reading… but no change in the lower number.
The researchers say the best way to get lycopene is from cooked tomatoes, which contain more of the antioxidant than raw ones. You’ll find those 25 mg a day in either a pint of tomato juice or 50 grams of tomato paste.
Of course, a daily pint of V-8 probably won’t cure a serious cholesterol problem — but that still doesn’t mean you have to turn to statins. Turn to some other cholesterol-lowering foods to bring those numbers down even further, such as
- and olive oil.
And if that’s not enough to do the trick and you can’t think of anything in your lifestyle that’s keeping your levels high, try red yeast rice.
It’s essentially a natural statin — and, as a satin, does come with more of a risk of side effects than, say, a handful of pecans.
But it’s a whole lot better for you than cholesterol meds — and since it’s not patented, red yeast rice is a whole lot cheaper, too.
Edward Martin is a health journalist who writes about today's most pressing health issues. He chronicles the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating everything from diabetes to cancer and reports on the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.