You know what they say about apples…an apple a day and all that. Well, let me tell you about a relatively new finding: How one tomato a day will help you walk away – from heart disease.
Think Tomatoes For The Health Of Your Heart
Tomatoes are a nutritional food source, they’re rich in:
Antioxidants and Vitamin A
➡ Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction
➡ It also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly
➡ Tomatoes are also rich in a substance called lycopene. Lycopene is a bright red carotene that gives tomatoes their color.
➡ It is one of the most potent antioxidants.
➡ Dietary intake of tomatoes and tomato products containing lycopene has been shown to be associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
➡ Lycopene is also found in other fruits and vegetables such as watermelon or red carrots.
In an average diet, tomatoes account for more than two-thirds of your lycopene consumption.
Evidence From Studies of Tomato and Lycopene
This may surprise you, but there are many studies that have tested the role of tomato consumption on heart health and heart disease risk factors.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
1. LDL cholesterol: The bad part of our cholesterol) becomes “oxidized” (changes chemically when combined with oxygen) due to a process called oxidative stress.
➡ The oxidized LDL then leads to an accumulation of cholesterol that forms plaques in our arteries, especially the coronary arteries which supply blood to our hearts.
➡ These plaques can rupture and cause a heart attack.
In studies of healthy people, as well as those with Type 2 diabetes, consumption of tomatoes or tomato products decreased levels of oxidized LDL.
Study References (if you’re interested):
2. Body Inflammation. Inflammation in our bodies has been shown to be associated with risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and atrial fibrillation.
➡ Eating tomatoes has been shown to reduce some of these markers of inflammation suggesting an improvement in inflammatory status particularly in overweight and obese people.
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3. Blood Pressure. Tomatoes and tomato products have been shown to have moderate lowering effects on both the systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. This can be seen as early as 8 weeks after starting frequent consumption of tomatoes and tomato products.
4. Improved survival in patients with heart failure.
➡ In a study of 212 patients with heart failure, higher lycopene intake from tomatoes was associated with improved survival.
➡ In fact, patients with low lycopene intake were 3.3 times more likely to die compared to those with high lycopene intake.
5. Reduced risk of stroke. In a study of 1,031 men from Finland, high lycopene consumption from tomatoes was associated with a much lower risk of stroke compared to men with a low consumption.
In this study, stroke risk was reduced by 65 % with high lycopene consumption.
It sounds like these studies suggest that the tomato is a great healthy choice for our hearts and may (as part of a healthy lifestyle) reduce the risk of heart disease.
Some of these studies show the greatest benefit after an early disease has developed…so it’s never too late to make better lifestyle choices.
And, before you ask if taking a lycopene supplement is as good as the food sources (is taking a pill better than eating a tomato?)…
Although there’s some evidence to support lycopene supplements for heart health, when all the evidence is examined, eating a tomato is the better choice. In fact, One Tomato a Day Will Help You Walk Away (from heart disease!).