Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and other carotenoids which have shown beneficial effects on CVD in epidemiological and intervention studies. In the present study the effect of an extract of lycopene-rich tomatoes, Lyc-O-Mato (R) on atherosclerosis was studied in Watanabe Heritable Hyperlipidemic rabbits. The rabbits were fed a control diet, a control diet supplemented with the tomato extract or a control diet supplemented with a mixture of plant oils for 16 weeks. Lycopene was detected only in plasma of rabbits receiving tomato extract. The tomato extract had no effect on cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels measured in total plasma, lipoprotein fractions and on aortic atherosclerosis evaluated biochemically and by microscopy. Oxidation of lipids in unfractionated plasma also was unaffected by the intake of tomato extract. In conclusion, the tomato extract increased plasma levels of lycopene in rabbits, but had no effect on hypercholesterolaerma, oxidation of plasma lipids or aortic atherosclerosis.
British Journal of Nutrition, 2007, Vol 97, Issue 1, p. 6-10