Ahhh, the good ol’ tomato. They make a mean spaghetti sauce. They’re full of antioxidants, which makes them great for homemade facials. They’re even good for throwing at bad performers.
What else can you use tomatoes for? Allegedly, to counteract alcohol…at least, somewhat. Maybe.
Recent studies have shown tomatoes reduce the harmful effects of alcohol on the body. Now, that doesn’t mean you can do a tequila shot with a tomato chaser and escape the consequences. This fruit won’t save you from the headache and other horrors of a hangover. It also doesn’t prevent the intoxication that leads to poor choices.
What tomatoes can provide is some protection for your organs. Research revealed tomatoes “can protect the liver and brain from damage caused by alcohol consumption.” As we know, alcohol consumption wreaks havoc on both of these organs. With this tomato discovery, we may have found a helpful antidote for some of the damage done by alcohol. Here’s the scoop.
A team of researchers from Tufts University in Boston, MA tested three tomato products to analyze their efficacy against the detrimental effects of alcohol in the body. Previous studies have shown two standard alcoholic drinks can cause DNA damage to brain cells within 15 minutes of intake. And, as we all know, alcohol is broken down by enzymes in the liver, and these toxic by-products cause damage to liver cells.
This current study focused on the usefulness of tomatoes in safeguarding the body versus the damage created by consuming seven standard alcoholic drinks daily. The amount of alcohol consumption was purposefully chosen by the team to mirror the effects of excessive, chronic drinking in humans.
The researchers used tomato powder, tomato extract, and purified lycopene. The powder offered the same nutritional equivalent to a tomato, the extract contained only fat-soluble components, and the lycopene is the red-pigment antioxidant that gives tomatoes their color. The results of the four week experiment showed:
- Brain cells treated with purified Lycopene for three and a half hours prior to alcohol exposure showed significant damage reduction.
- Whole tomatoes mitigated the harm done by alcohol to liver cells.
What Does This Mean for You?
The study authors noted to achieve the same level of “botanical” defense from alcohol exposure, you would need to eat four medium-sized tomatoes or one third cup of tomato sauce daily. That’s a lot of marinara in your diet.
Keep in mind, tomatoes won’t stop all of the damage. They also don’t prevent alcohol dependency or other negative consequences. Of course, the best way to avoid the damage alcohol does to your body is to not drink any of it. But for anyone who does occasionally imbibe, the tomato might prove to be a helpful friend.
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