Are Tomatoes Protective Of Mood Disorders

Tomatoes are a rich source of nutrients including phytochemical antioxidants. In particular, tomatoes are known to contain carotenoids, the most abundant being the red pigment lycopene. Lycopene has a number of health effects and this may relate to the fact that it is absorbed into animals and human tissues where it acts as a antioxidant. Exposure to stress is thought to cause the release of cortisol and the generation of inflammatory processes, and this leads to the formation of free radicals. The free radicals are a source of oxidative stress, and this may cause lipid peroxidation in the tissues of the brain which damages the delicate neurones and causes dysfunction. It is this dysfunction that can lead to the development of mood disorders. Research shows that a tomato rich diet may reduce the risk of developing depressive symptoms, and this may be due to the antioxidants in the tomatoes. Other fruits and vegetables may be equally effective, if they contain comparable amounts of antioxidants.

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Tomatoes account for the majority of lycopene in the human diet. Lycopene is particularly effective at quenching the singlet oxygen radical, and in this way can inhibit oxidative stress in the delicate tissues of the brain.

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Niu, K., Guo, H., Kakizaki, M., Cui, Y., Ohmori-Matsuda, K., Guan, L., Hozawa, A., Kuriyama, S., Tsuboya, T., Ohrui, T., Furukawa, K., Arai, H., Tsuji, I. and Furukawa, K. 2013. A tomato-rich diet is related to depressive symptoms among an elderly population aged 70 years and over: a population-based, cross-sectional analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 144(1-2): 165-170

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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