Most of us have heard about the high antioxidants in tomatoes, especially in tomato sauce, paste and juice. A May 2017 study from Japan tested tomato’s phytonutrient power. Researchers wanted to find out the effect of tomato juice on the DNA damage and oxidative stress caused by exposure to X-rays.
These scientists determined that free radicals (unstable molecules that contain oxygen and easily react with other molecules in a cell, both positively and negatively) cause much of the DNA damage from ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation comes from medical equipment and radiation cancer therapy. And they also knew that the carotenoids called lycopene and beta-carotene in tomato juice are known to be strong free radical scavengers.
For this study, healthy adults drank a small glass of tomato juice each day for 3 weeks and then stopped for 3 weeks. Blood samples were collected before and after tomato juice was taken, and then after the abstention period when they drank none. The blood was then exposed to varying amounts of X-rays and measured for levels of oxidative stress.
They found that evidence of free radicals decreased during the tomato juice period and increased during the abstention period. They concluded that tomato juice may reduce human lymphocyte DNA damage caused by radiation, but said that further research is required.(Ayumi Nakamura, Chieko Itaki, Ayako Saito et al.,“Possible benefits of tomato juice consumption: a pilot study on irradiated human lymphocytes from healthy donors,” Nutrition Journal 12 May 2017,16:27DOI: 10.1186/s12937-017-0248-3)