People with heart disease should start taking lycopene supplements, an antioxidant found in tomatoes and other fruits, say researchers. It seems to improve the health and function of the blood vessels.
Tomatoes could be a key ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet, say researchers from Cambridge University, who point out that heart disease is less of a problem in Southern Europe, where the diet predominates.
The researchers gave 36 heart patients and 36 healthy individuals Ateronon, an off-the-shelf supplement containing 7mg of lycopene, or a placebo. The supplement improved and normalized endothelial function-which affects the inner lining of blood vessels-in the heart patients, but had no effect in healthy controls. Lycopene also widened blood vessels by 53 per cent.
The lycopene in tomatoes is even more potent when the fruit is pureed or in ketchup. Lycopene is ten times more potent than vitamin E.
(Source: PLoS ONE, 2014; 9(6): e99070)