When you were a kid you probably thought of the tomato as a vegetable, and now they’re calling them “tomato fruit”.
But whether you’re old-school or new age, the fact is that we mostly take tomatoes for granted, considering how much they help your heart.
Stroke, hypertension and heart attack, the tomato helps prevent them all. In fact, when scientists look at what elements of a healthy diet improve your heart and arteries, the tomato is at the top of the shopping list.
The heavy-hitting nutrient in tomatoes is the antioxidant pigment lycopene. It gives tomatoes their red colour and is a powerful nutrient that offers extra benefits when it is pureed in tomato sauce and consumed with olive oil. When researchers tested lycopene on people with heart disease, they found that lycopene helped blood vessels widen 53% more.
It is believed that the widening lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In a research study it was clearly shown 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.
In fact, a “tomato pill”, or lycopene supplementation, turns out to be incredible for lowering blood pressure and according to research done by the Harvard School of Public Health, supplementing with lycopene works much better than simply eating tomatoes.
Lycopene is so powerful it can even protect heart cells against the effects of a heart attack. It was also found that those with the highest blood levels of lycopene were 55% less likely to have a stroke. If you love tomatoes, then you should eat them as your first and most natural source of lycopene. Lycopene absorbs best when you heat the tomato or combine it with fat like olive oil.
Each tomato has around 7 mg of lycopene, but you should try to get at least 20 mg a day for heart protection. Avoid synthetically created nutrients, as always, and look for lycopene that has no sweeteners, gluten, or refined sodium.
Lizel Britz 072 243 7707