HOUSTON – Consuming two midsize uncooked tomatoes daily for a month resulted in a mean 5 mg/dL gain in HDL cholesterol level in a randomized trial in patients with low HDL.
A control group assigned to eat an equal quantity of cucumber – 300 g/day – saw no change in HDL, according to Dr. Daniel Cuevas Ramos of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition in Mexico City.
He reported on 41 women and 11 men with low HDL but normal triglyceride levels who participated in the month-long randomized trial, during which they consumed an isocaloric diet.
Over the course of 1 month of follow-up, mean HDL levels in the tomato eaters climbed from 36.5 mg/dL at baseline to 41.6 mg/dL, while the cucumber-eating controls saw no significant change over time.
A linear regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, waist-to-hip ratio, physical activity, body mass index, and intake of alcohol, simple sugars, and omega-3 fatty acids showed that tomato consumption was independently associated with the increase in HDL.
Two medium tomatoes contain about 30 mg of lycopene, the nutrient thought responsible for the HDL boost. Prior cross-sectional studies had linked lycopene intake to higher HDL, he noted.
Dr. Cuevas Ramos reported having no financial conflicts.