How Tomatoes May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke

How Tomatoes May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke

Bev Dunne

For a few years now there has increasingly been more information being released on the therapeutic benefits of Lycopene particularly when it comes to prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Cancer has exceeded heart disease as the biggest killer in Australia, however heart disease is not far behind. In light of this, one would think we would all be aiming to take as many steps as possible to avoid both these diseases which is why I find the information now available on Lycopene so very interesting. We all know the Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet, particularly when it comes to heart health. One of the reasons is the high amount of Lycopene contained in a typical Mediterranean diet. Obviously, tomatoes rate highly in such a diet and interestingly cooked tomatoes are amongst the best dietary sources of Lycopene. Lycopene has been found to be the carotenoid antioxidant which gives our fruit and vegetables that pink or red colour.

It is understood Lycopene circulates in our blood and it is believed higher levels of Lycopene in the blood equate to a lower risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. When it comes to cardiovascular disease it has been found oxidation of LDL, the bad cholesterol contributes to plaque build-up and hardening of the arteries. Supplementing with Lycopene may make these LDL particles more resistant to oxidation which of course means less risk of plaque build-up. Lycopene may also inhibit the enzyme which produces cholesterol. Interestingly the purpose of taking a cholesterol-lowering drug is to also inhibit this enzyme.

High blood levels of Lycopene is also thought to be beneficial in reducing the risk of stroke.

For some time, it has been believed Lycopene could have some anti-cancer benefits because of its potent antioxidant properties. Not only does Lycopene circulate in the blood helping prevent plaque build-up, as I wrote last week, it also concentrates in the male reproductive system and is believed it may protect against prostate cancer. Lycopene may also help prevent and help in the treatment of benign enlarged prostate and the assisting in reducing pressure on the bladder.

Lycopene may also be beneficial in preventing the sun’s UV damage to the skin, safeguarding from skin cancer.

When looking to increase the Lycopene levels in your blood, following the Mediterranean diet is a good place to start. Our bodies don’t produce Lycopene which means it needs to come from foods we eat or supplementing with a Lycopene capsule.

To ensure we obtain sufficient Lycopene in our diet it may be worthwhile taking a Lycopene supplement. It is very important to ensure when choosing a supplement, it is designed to have the maximum bioavailability to be the most effective. As I mentioned last week, Lycopene is difficult to absorb because of its molecular structure. A product which was released in Australia several years ago contains LactoLycopene which combines Lycopene with whey protein which has been found to enable the body to absorb the Lycopene more effectively. One capsule is the equivalent of 30 tomatoes.

If you want to know more call in to see Bev and the team at Go Vita Your Health Shop at 5 North St, Batemans Bay or call on 44729737. Don’t forget to tune into Bev on “Go Get Healthy” on 2EC every Wednesday at 12.30pm.