Tomatoes and Orange Juice Show Health Benefits

In two separate stories, both tomatoes and orange juice have been shown to have some unexpected health benefits. One story reported in the March 19, 2002 issue of MSNBC Health states that, "Drinking orange juice lowers blood pressure." The other article from the March 5, 2002 issue of MSNBC Health had the headline, "Tomatoes may lower cancer risk."

In one study Dr. Dennis Sprecher of the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center studied two dozen volunteers who drank two glasses of orange juice a day for six weeks. The results were listed as astonishing with a measured 10 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, and a diastolic blood pressure decrease by 3.5 mm Hg, on average for participants. Dr. Sprecher remarked, "This is an enormous amount for two months. We were astonished."

The second study performed by Dr. Edward Giovannucci of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that men who ate at least two meals a week containing tomato products lowered their risk of prostate cancer by 24 to 36 percent. "These most recent findings add support to the notion that a diet rich in tomatoes and lycopene-containing foods, as well as other fruits and vegetables, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer," said Giovannucci.

Tomatoes also faired well in a second study of nearly 1,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in Harvard's ongoing Women's Health Study. In this study women with the highest blood levels of lycopene, the compound that gives tomatoes their red color, were about one-third less likely to develop heart disease over the course of seven years than those with those lowest levels.