A new University of Illinois study shows that tomatoes and broccoli are better at shrinking prostate tumors when both are part of the daily diet than when they’re eaten alone.
“When tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, we see an additive effect. We think it’s because different bioactive compounds in each food work on different anti-cancer pathways,” said University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor John Erdman.
How much tomato and broccoli should a 55-year-old man concerned about prostate health eat in order to receive these benefits? The scientists did some conversions.
“To get these effects, men should consume daily 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato, or 1 cup of tomato sauce, or ? cup of tomato paste. I think it’s very doable for a man to eat a cup and a half of broccoli per day or put broccoli on a pizza with ? cup of tomato paste,” said Canene-Adams.
Erdman said the study showed that eating whole foods is better than consuming their components. “It’s better to eat tomatoes than to take a lycopene supplement,” he said. “And cooked tomatoes may be better than raw tomatoes. Chopping and heating make the cancer-fighting constituents of tomatoes and broccoli more bioavailable.”
“When tomatoes are cooked, for example, the water is removed and the healthful parts become more concentrated. That doesn’t mean you should stay away from fresh produce. The lesson here, I think, is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways,” Canene-Adams added.
Erdman said the tomato/broccoli study was a natural to be carried out at Illinois because of the pioneering work his colleague Elizabeth Jeffery has done on the cancer-fighting agents found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Jeffery has discovered sulfur compounds in broccoli that enhance certain enzymes in the human body, which then act to degrade carcinogens.