Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of mortality in the United Kingdom. Epidemiologic studies suggest that consumption of tomato-based foods may lower CVD risk. Such potential benefits have been ascribed in part to high concentrations of lycopene in the tomatoes. However, these findings have not yet been validated by comprehensive intervention trials. The aim of this study was to conduct a single-blind, randomized controlled intervention trial with healthy middle-aged volunteers to assess whether the consumption of tomato-based foods affects recognized biomarkers of CVD risk. After a 4-wk run-in period with a low-tomato diet, 225 volunteers (94 men and 131 women) aged 40–65 y were randomly assigned into 1 of 3 dietary intervention groups and asked to consume a control diet (low in tomato-based foods), a high-tomato-based diet, or a control diet supplemented with lycopene capsules (10 mg/d) for 12 wk. Blood samples were collected at baseline, at 6 wk, and after the intervention and were analyzed for carotenoid and lipid profiles and inflammatory markers. Blood pressure, weight, and arterial stiffness were also measured. Dietary intake was also determined during the intervention. None of the systemic markers (inflammatory markers, markers of insulin resistance and sensitivity) changed significantly after the dietary intervention. Moreover, lipid concentrations and arterial stiffness were also unaffected by the interventions. These data indicate that a relatively high daily consumption of tomato-based products (equivalent to 32–50 mg lycopene/d) or lycopene supplements (10 mg/d) is ineffective at reducing conventional CVD risk markers in moderately overweight, healthy, middle-aged individuals. This trial was registered at isrctn.org as ISRCTN34203810.
Thies, F., Masson, L. F., Rudd, A., Vaughan, N., Tsang, C., Brittenden, J., ... Duthie, G. (2012). Effect of a tomato-rich diet on markers of cardiovascular disease risk in moderately overweight, disease-free, middle-aged adults: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(5), 1013-1022. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.111.026286