Organically grown tomatoes contain high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant-rich compound, which also gives them their distinct red color. According to new research conducted by Dr. Joseph Cheriyan, a consultant clinical pharmacologist and physician at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital, eating lycopene or taking lycopene in supplement form can help improve blood vessel function.
The randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study, which included 72 individuals, some of which already had cardiovascular disease, was divided into two separate groups. In group one, researchers gave participants 7mg of lycopene in vitamin form, and for test group two, individuals received a dummy pill. In order to evaluate the progress for the two groups, researchers measured forearm blood flow, which allows them to predict future cardiovascular risk.
When researchers finished analyzing the data, they noticed a remarkable improvement in the group that was given the 7mg dose of lycopene. More importantly, it had improved blood vessel flow in people who already had heart disease. The tomato pill, as it’s more commonly referred to, has even shown anti-cancerous activity and stroke reduction properties. Even though the study used a lycopene supplement, eating tomatoes can be a great way to boost lycopene levels in the body.
Cooking tomatoes, which usually decreases bioavailability in foods, actually increases absorption of lycopene. Lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means you should also add some organic, healthy fats to the mix, such as olive oil, a classic Mediterranean diet staple. When you choose tomatoes, avoid anything that comes directly in a can. Since the fruit is very acidic, it has the potential to increase toxic BPA release from the inner lining.
Lycopene is a natural solution for anyone looking to prevent or is already dealing with cardiovascular disease. Whether raw or cooked, lycopene rich foods, such as tomatoes, can boost antioxidants levels for cardiovascular support and protection.