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Tomatoes prevent depression: study

7/12/2012 2:00:00 PM
Laura Wakely
Researchers discovered that those who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 per cent less likely to suffer depression (Thinkstock)
Researchers discovered that those who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 per cent less likely to suffer depression (Thinkstock)

Feeling blue? Boosting the number of tomatoes in your diet could help.

A team of Chinese and Japanese researchers have found eating tomatoes or tomato products regularly could reduce a person's chance of developing depression by more than 50 percent.

The researchers conducted a survey of 986 Japanese people aged 70 years and older, asking them questions about their diet, psychological wellbeing and history of depression.

They discovered that those who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 per cent less likely to suffer depression than those who ate tomatoes less than once a week.

Those who ate tomatoes every day reduced their risk of depression by 52 percent.

Researchers found other vegetables, including cabbage, carrot, onion and pumpkin had no effect on the symptoms of depression.

Lead researcher Dr Kaijun Niu said the results suggested a tomato-rich diet may be able to help prevent depression from developing.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, also suggested that it could be the high levels of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, that was responsible.

But the researchers concluded further studies would be needed to confirm the findings.

Levels of lycopene are particularly high in tomato products such as sauces and soups − one raw tomato contains three milligrams of lycopene, while 14 milligrams are found in just two tablespoons of tomato paste.

It was recently found that lycopene could also reduce the risk of stroke by 55 percent in a Finnish study earlier this year.

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