New trial to see if tomatoes can tackle cardiovascular disease

New trial to see if tomatoes can tackle cardiovascular disease

Researchers in Aberdeen are about to start recruiting volunteers onto a trial to see whether tomatoes and tomato-based foods such as tomato sauce, tomato soup and tomato juice can help prevent stroke and heart disease.

Previous studies suggest that eating tomato-based food may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) - heart, stroke and blood vessel disease - which is one of Britain's biggest killers.  

These potential benefits are thought to be due partly to the high concentration in the fruit of the bright red pigment lycopene – a powerful antioxidant.

But whether the humble tomato actually does lower the risk of CVD has not yet been validated by dietary intervention trials.

Now thanks to funding from the Food Standards Agency, scientists at the University of Aberdeen and Rowett Research Institute are about to put it to the test.

Dr Frank Thies, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen and Senior Scientist at the Rowett, is heading the study. He said: "We want to find out whether eating tomatoes and tomato based foods can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease which is a major cause of death in the UK.

"We also hope our study will establish whether it is the lycopene or the whole tomato itself that could possibly make the difference.

"Obviously depending on our findings, our results could allow the Food Standards Agency to develop nutritional policies involving tomato based food to combat cardiovascular disease."

Researchers hope to start the trial in August and are already recruiting volunteers onto their trial.

Dr Thies explained: "We are looking for healthy men and women with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

"Our recruits should be aged between 40 and 65 and not be taking any medication."

Recruits will be split into three groups and follow certain diets for 16 weeks:

·         one group will be on low tomato diet – which is actually quite a normal diet for British people

·         the second will go on high tomato diet where they will be asked to eat a certain amount of tomato based foodstuff eg tomato soup, tomato-based sauces, tomato juice, tomato ketchup etc.

·         the third will eat a low tomato diet but supplemented it with a lycopene capsule

Volunteers will be asked to make eight visits over the 4 months period to the University's Medicine and Therapeutics department where various measurements and blood samples will be taken.

To find out more or volunteer for the trial please contact Dr Frank Thies on Aberdeen 553020 or Dr Catherine Tsang on Aberdeen 550782.

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