A couple of cooked tomatoes a day will keep the heart doctors away, according to new research.
Now there’s another good reason to stock up on the nation’s favourite red fruit – cooked tomatoes work just as well as statins, the drug prescribed to high cholesterol or high blood pressure sufferers, because of the high levels of the compound lycopene, found in them.
After analysing 14 international studies on the benefits of lycopene, carried out over the past 55 years, Australian researchers concluded that lycopene has a natural defence against high cholesterol and high blood pressure as it has the same effect as small doses of statins.
‘Our study suggests that if more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce LPD (bad) cholesterol by up to 10 per cent,’ says Dr Karin Ried of the University of Adelaide, one of the study’s authors.
‘That’s comparable to the effect of low doses of medication commonly prescribed for people with slightly elevated cholesterol, but without the side effects of these drugs, which can include muscle pain and weakness and nerve damage.’
The researchers also found that cooked tomatoes work better than raw tomatoes because the body absorbs more lycopene.
Cardiovascular disease sufferers could be on the road to recovery by simply incorporating different variations of tomatoes into their diet such as tomato pasta sauce, pizza toppings, tomato paste or tomato juice.
Other food that contains lycopene, but in lower concentrations, include papaya, guava, apricots and pink grapefruit.
‘Research shows that high lycopene consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes.’