Welcome to tonight’s episode of MythBusters.
In the last decade, many health claims have been made about lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their bright red color. It was claimed that foods with a high concentration of lycopene (like ketchup) would provide the right blend of antioxidants to ward off several types of cancers.
Unfortunately, researchers at the Food and Drug Administration have discovered that it ain’t necessarily so:
‘No credible evidence’ exists that tomatoes prevent lung, colorectal, breast, cervical or uterine cancers, the investigators state, while there is only ‘very limited evidence’ that tomatoes can reduce the risk of prostate, ovarian, gastric and pancreatic cancer.
Some scientists believe that lycopene could still be beneficial in later-stage prostate cancers, and will continue to look into the links.
Meanwhile, a much newer hypothesis—that high-fructose corn syrup is a factor in obesity because it tricks the body into feeling less full than sugar—has also been debunked.
Researchers at the University of Washington fed test subjects milk or cola beverages with corn syrup or sugar, then sent them to lunch at an all-you-can-eat buffet (mmmmm, buffets). Turns out, the folks getting the cola beverages with corn syrup and those getting the ones with sugar ate around the same number of calories. The real weight-loss winners? Those who drank water or diet soda—they ate more, but their overall caloric intake was below that of soda and milk drinkers.