13/06/2013 08:03 BST | Updated 13/08/2013 06:12 BST

Tomatoes Save the Day


(Photo Credit: Flickr / burgundavia)

Recent research from Queensland, Australia has revealed a new health benefit for the humble tomato fruit. Tomatoes are already known to have positive health effects in a myriad of ways - from helping to fight off cardiovascular disease to helping to prevent strokes - but the latest study focuses on the antioxidant lycopene.

Lycopene is the pigment in tomatoes that makes them red in appearance, and it has now been shown to ease prostrate expansion, a phenomenon which occurs in men as they age. Those who suffer from prostrate problems often have to visit the toilet many times during the night, which can be a real nuisance. This is caused by an enlarged prostrate putting pressure on the bladder.

Throughout history many societies have believed tomatoes to be poisonous, but it's certainly clear now that they're quite the opposite. This latest research from Australia was the result of a three-month study that saw reduced overnight toilet visits in participants, as well as a significant improvement in overall bladder function.

If you suffer from prostrate problems but aren't too keen on tomatoes, there's more good news. A natural supplement version of lycopene called Ateronon which contains LactoLycopene, an easily absorbed version of lycopene has been gaining attention in the UK, and may be even more effective than the natural lycopene found in tomatoes.

Research from the University of Cambridge at the American Heart Association has suggested that Ateronon is absorbed by the body more easily, which may mean the supplement is has more health benefits than lycopene in tomatoes. Further studies are currently underway to showcase more about both Aternonon and lycopene.

Howard Sesso is an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, part of Harvard University, and he is currently investigating the effects of Ateronon in a year-long study with 200 volunteers. "Processed tomatoes are an important food source through which lycopene is more bioavailable for absorption into the body, and associated with stronger health benefits," he explains.

"Ateronon is of particular interest as a unique lycopene supplement that provides highly bioavailable lycopene, and has improved lipid levels and reduces blood pressure in preliminary short-term studies. A single daily tablet of Ateronon provides more bioavailable lycopene than a litre of tomato juice or 100g of tomato paste - it is also absorbed efficiently, and inhibits atherogenic lipid oxidation processes. "