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J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):326-33. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.150631. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Tomato-based food products are related to clinically modest improvements in selected coronary biomarkers in women.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Few epidemiologic studies have examined the potential cardiovascular mechanisms of tomato-based food products, the primary dietary source of lycopene. We examined the cross-sectional association between tomato-based food product intake and coronary biomarkers in the Women's Health Study. Tomato-based food products (tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce, pizza) were summed from a semiquantitative FFQ and multiple risk factors ascertained. Plasma from baseline blood samples were assayed for lipids, lipoproteins, hemoglobin A1c, C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, soluble intracellular adhesion molecule-1, and creatinine. A total of 27,261 women aged ≥45 y who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer provided relevant data for this study. Tomato-based food product intake was modest, with 84% of women consuming <1 serving/d, but those with greater intake had healthier lifestyle and dietary habits. Women consuming ≥10 compared with <1.5 servings/wk of tomato-based food products had significant but clinically modest improvements in total cholesterol (TC) (5.38 vs. 5.51 mmol/L; P = 0.029), the TC:HDL cholesterol ratio (4.08 vs. 4.22; P = 0.046), and hemoglobin A1c (5.02 vs. 5.13%; P < 0.001) in multivariable models. Considering clinical cutpoints, women consuming ≥10 compared with <1.5 servings/wk were 31% (95% CI = 6%, 50%), 40% (95% CI = 13%, 59%), and 66% (95% CI = 20%, 86%) less likely to have elevated TC (≥6.21 mmol/L), LDL cholesterol (≥4.14 mmol/L), and hemoglobin A1c (≥6%), respectively. Other coronary biomarkers were unassociated with tomato-based food products. In conclusion, women consuming ≥10 compared with <1.5 servings/wk of tomato-based food products had clinically modest but significant improvements in TC, the TC:HDL cholesterol ratio, and hemoglobin A1c but not other coronary biomarkers.

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