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Cooked tomatoes can reduce cholesterol

Australian scientists have found that cooked tomatoes can have the same benefits as statins for patients battling against high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure, which can lead to heart problems.

Their study revealed tomatoes could be an effective alternative to statins, the class of drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions. Tomatoes contain high levels of a powerful anti-oxidant, lycopene, which helps lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The compound also gives the veggie its bright red colour when ripen.

Cooked tomatoes are best as tests showed the body can absorb more lycopene from these than raw fruit.

The experts concluded that it could provide a natural defence to raised levels of so-called ‘bad cholesterol’ — or low-density lipoprotein — in the blood.

The effect was comparable to small doses of statins that are used to treat patients with high cholesterol or blood pressure.

Karin Ried, University of Adelaide, said half a litre of tomato juice or 50 grams of tomato paste daily “would provide protection against heart disease”.

Turmeric makes neck cancer treatment more effective

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre have found that a compound derived from curcumin helps cells overcome the treatment failure of head and neck cancer. Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric.

When researchers added a curcumin-based compound, called FLLL32, to head and neck cancer cell lines, they were able to cut the dose of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin by four while still killing tumor cells equally as well as the higher dose of cisplatin without FLLL32.

“This work opens the possibility of using lower, less toxic doses of cisplatin to achieve an equivalent or enhanced tumor kill. Typically, when cells become resistant to cisplatin, we have to give increasingly higher doses. But this drug is so toxic that patients who survive treatment often experience long-term side effects from the treatment,” said Thomas Carey, U-M Medical School.

That tumors become resistant to cisplatin is a major reason why head and neck cancer patients frequently see their cancer return or spread.

Lower fat diet may ward off diabetes, without weight loss

Small differences in diet — even without weight loss — can significantly affect risk for diabetes. In a study, 69 healthy, overweight people who did not have diabetes — but were at risk for it — were placed on diets with modest reductions in either fat or carbohydrate for eight weeks.

“At eight weeks, the group on the lower fat diet had significantly higher insulin secretion and better glucose tolerance and tended to have higher insulin sensitivity,” said Barbara Gower. “These improvements indicate a decreased risk for diabetes.”

Barbara says the unique aspect of this study is that the results were independent of weight loss. “People find it hard to lose weight. What is important about our study is that the results suggest that attention to diet quality, not quantity, can make a difference in risk for Type 2 diabetes,” she added.

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