Can a `Tomato Pill’ help your heart health? | Daily News

Can a `Tomato Pill’ help your heart health?

Plump and juicy, bursting with flavour and essential to so many wonderful recipes, it’s no wonder the humble tomato is a firm favourite for most Brits.

Whether it’s sliced fresh in a salad or sandwich or cooked in a delicious spaghetti bolognaise or lasagne, it’s an absolute staple in so many of our homes. But eating this brilliant red fruit isn’t just a delight, it also provides a whole host of unexpected health benefits.

PACKED WITH GOODNESS

Despite their small size, tomatoes pack a real vitamin and mineral punch. They contain potassium, which is associated with lower rates of stroke and possibly heart disease, and Vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and wound healing.

And the carotenoids in tomatoes – which give the fruit its glorious red (or sometimes yellow or orange) colour – are also vital for keeping our bodies in tip-top condition.

They’re important for eye health, could protect against problems such as age-related macular degeneration, and they may also help guard us against skin cancer. That’s because studies have shown carotenoids may HELP prevent UV damage to our skins - and it’s this type of sunlight that causes the disease.

LYCOPENE, THE WONDER INGREDIENT

Key to this protection is one of the compounds in carotenoids called lycopene. Nutritionist Rick Hay explains: ‘Lycopene is a powerful super antioxidant that particularly helps with cardio-vascular and with general immune function as well.

‘It is also important for prostate health with lactolycopene, which a combination of lycopene and whey protein, showing promise in research.‘Other areas that it may help include bone health and to reduce blood pressure.’

HOW CAN TOMATOES HELP OUR HEARTS?

Interest in whether tomatoes can help our hearts began when researchers realised fewer people in countries that typically ate a Mediterranean-style diet based on lots of vegetables, fruits and beans suffered cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks. Scientists began looking for the reason why, particularly whether the small red fruit – tomatoes are classed as fruits because they have pips – was responsible.

While there’s still a lot more research to be done, studies undertaken so far indicate that tomatoes may indeed be able to help our hearts. One study found people drinking tomato juice saw a reduction in their LDL cholesterol, the ‘bad’ cholesterol that raises your risk of heart attack or strokes. Another discovered eating tomatoes could reduce your blood pressure in as little as eight weeks, again lowering the risk of a stroke.

And the fruit has also been shown to reduce some types of inflammation in our body, particularly in overweight and obese people. Inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

SO CAN TAKING THE ‘TOMATO PILL’ HELP?

Of course, it’s not always easy to eat tomatoes regularly to be assured of getting their benefits. So, could a daily supplement help?

At the end of a two-month study, it was found the tomato pill improved this blood flow significantly in the heart disease patients, while the placebo did not.

Lead researcher Dr Joseph Cheriyan said: ‘We’ve shown quite clearly that lycopene improves the function of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease patients. It reinforces the need for a healthy diet in people at risk from heart disease and stroke. A daily “tomato pill” is not a substitute for other treatments but may provide added benefits when taken alongside other medication.’ dailymail 


 

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