Oxidative stress caused by environmental factors, such as radiation or smoking, is harmful to the body. A recent study investigated the potential antioxidant benefits of tomato juice.
Oxidative stress is the process in which certain chemicals, particularly reactive oxygen species, can cause a variety of damage to cells. With too much damage, cells can deteriorate and contribute to the development of diseases and the aging process. A byproduct of oxidative stress is DNA damage, which is why the authors of a recent study published in the Nutrition Journal sought out foods that may mitigate DNA damage caused by oxidative stress. Their interest was the health benefit of tomato juice. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and ß-carotenoids, — two compounds that can combat the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species.
Ten healthy participants ranging in age from 22 to 26 years were recruited for the study. For 3 weeks, the subjects drank 190g of tomato juice everyday while refraining from any activities that could potentially tamper with the results. These activities included strenuous exercise, alcohol consumption, taking vitamin supplements or being subjected to radiation for diagnostic or treatment purposes. After 3 weeks, the participants refrained from drinking tomato juice for an additional 3 weeks. Blood samples were taken at two points: immediately following tomato juice consumption and after the washout period in which no tomato juice was consumed for 3 weeks. Blood samples were analyzed as well as irradiated with UV to induce oxidative stress.
The results showed that after 3 weeks of tomato juice consumption, the amount of lycopene and ß-carotenoids in the blood increased significantly. However, levels returned to baseline during the 3 week washout period. Blood analysis showed that drinking tomato juice lowered the number of reactive oxygen species, but not by amount significant enough to conclusively label tomato juice as an effective anti-oxidant food. The authors conclude that tomato juice may to some degree prevent DNA damage due to radiation, but further testing is necessary.
Written By: Harin Lee, BSc