Tomato juice can save a tomato soup recipe from being just average soup. It can save your beverage choice from being bland, and it can also save your life, as one of the nutrients in found tomato juice has been shown to help prevent cancer.
As the second leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer, a disease in which the body’s abnormal cells divide and destroy body tissue, is one of the most life-threatening illnesses .
While cancer can sometimes randomly occur, there are also steps that can be taken to help prevent the disease. It’s well-known that avoiding cigarette smoke and wearing sunscreen are two of the best and most simple ways to prevent certain types of cancer, but another less well-known way that’s just as simple as drinking tomato juice.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which in addition to its ability to help bone health and blood pressure, it’s also been linked to helping reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
“Tomato juice is an incredibly rich source of the carotenoid, lycopene,” says Lindsay Wengler, DR at Olive Branch Nutrition. “This nutrient gives tomatoes their bright red color, acts as a powerful antioxidant and has also been shown in several studies to reduce inflammation and the risk of several types of cancer.”
Not only does lycopene help to prevent certain types of cancer, but one Brazilian study even found that lycopene is effective at killing prostate cancer cells. Similar results were found in a study from Catholic University in Rome’s medical school, which says that lycopene is found to stop the growth of cancer cells in humans. The study observed patients who were diagnosed with numerous cancer types, including breast, prostate, stomach, colon, and oral cancer.
That isn’t to say that cancer patients should forego treatment and just stick to drinking tomato juice, but it is helpful to know that because of the lycopene found in them, tomatoes and tomato products, including tomato juice, are powerful tools to aid in cancer prevention. While lycopene is found in any variation of tomatoes, Wengler says that it’s often most potent in a concentrated product, like tomato juice.
“The lycopene found in tomatoes is more powerful in a concentrated and cooked form like tomato juice, which provides 23 milligrams of lycopene per 8-ounce glass,” Wengler says.
The best way to drink tomato juice, and the way to get the most nutritional benefit from drinking juice, is by having freshly-squeezed juice, so the drink doesn’t come with the excess sugars that are typically found in packaged containers of juice that are available at the store.
Erin Yarnall is a freelance food writer. Read more