Scientists say the naturally occurring antioxidant lycopene, found in abundance in tomatoes, helps block the body from absorbing “bad” LDL cholesterol. This bad cholesterol is primarily responsible for clogging arteries.
In its natural form, lycopene gives tomatoes their red color, but is also poorly absorbed by the human body. Now scientists at the British Cardiovascular Society say a new supplement derived from tomatoes “can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the body to almost zero within eight weeks,” according to a report by the BBC. The supplement, Ateronon, provides a modified form of lycopene that is readily used by the body. The modified lycopene compound was originally developed by Swiss food giant Nestle.
Early evidence suggest that the supplement “could be much more effective than statin drugs currently used by doctors to treat high cholesterol,” according to the report.
We are eager to hear the reaction of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They have created a “Catch-22” situation in which:
- All drugs must be FDA-approved.
- The FDA defines “drugs” as “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease,” even if those substances are naturally occurring.
- If a substance has not been declared an FDA-approved drug, no health claims may be made about it, regardless of the scientific backing for the claim.
Case in point: In 2005, the FDA banned information about the scientifically proven health benefits of cherries from appearing on websites, calling cherries “unapproved new drugs.” And more recently, they said the maker of Cheerios cannot claim any health benefits of the cereal lest they too be declared a new drug.