Want to stay trim? Just eat lots of tomatoes, says a new study. Previous studies have shown tomatoes, rich in vitamin C, can help heart health, with regular helpings of ketchup and tomato juice sending cholesterol levels plummeting in a matter of weeks.

Now, a team at Reading University has found that eating the fruit leaves one feel satisfied, suppressing the urge to snack, and also help one shed the excess weight, the 'Daily Mail' reported. According to researchers, it could be because tomatoes are rich in compounds that alter levels of appetite hormones, making them an easy — and cheap — way to keep hunger pangs at bay. In fact, the study is based on findings from research into the benefits of enriching white bread with fruit as well as vegetables.

A small group of normal weight women aged between 18 and 35 were offered cream cheese sandwiches that had been made with either white bread or bread enriched with carrots or tomatoes. It was thought that the extra fibre provided by the carrot would make the carrot-bread lunches the most filling. Instead, the tomato bread was the most satisfying.

According to the researchers, further research will focus on whether eating tomatoes alters levels of appetite- regulating hormones, including ghrelin. A lower level of ghrelin makes people feel full. However, it is not known which part of the tomato dulls the appetite, but it may be lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour.

Lycopene is already credited with a host of health benefits, from warding off cancer to boosting fertility. It is thought to be particularly effective at combating prostate cancer, protecting against the disease and slowing its progress when it does develop.