Have a ‘tomato pill’ for super heart health


Tomatoes have many health ben-efits, but a new study finds that a daily supplement of an extract found in tomatoes may improve the function of blood vessels in pa-tients with cardiovascular disease.Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that is 10 times more potent than vitamin E – is good for your heart.“There is a wealth of research that suggests that the Mediterranean diet that includes lycopene found in tomatoes is good for our cardiovascular health. But so far, it has been a mystery what the underlying mechanisms could be,” explained Joseph Cheriyan, an as-sociate lecturer at University of Cambridge.One component of the Mediterranean diet thought to play a role in reducing cardiovas-cular risk is lycopene found in tomatoes and other fruits.Its potency appears to be enhanced when it is consumed pureed in ketchup or in the presence of olive oil.To understand the underly-ing mechanism, researchers carried out a randomised trial investigating the effects of ly-copene.Thirty six cardiovascular dis-ease patients and 36 healthy volunteers were given either Ateronon pill (an off-the-shelf supplement containing seven mg of lycopene) or a placebo treatment.The researchers found that seven mg of oral lycopene sup-plementation improved and normalised endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) func-tion in the patients but not in healthy volunteers.Lycopene improved the wid-ening of the blood vessels by over a half (53 per cent) com-pared to baseline in those tak-ing the pill.The supplement had no effect on blood pressure arterial stiffness or levels of lipids.“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,” Cheriyan maintained.The study was published in the journal PLOS One.