Nutritional Value of Tomatoes
The carotenoid lycopene has been extensively studied to determine antioxidant and cancer preventing properties.
Tomatoes are also rich in many nutrients, such as vitamin C and vitamin A. In addition, they provide a good source of fiber, which is know to lower high cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar, and prevent colon cancer.
Tomatoes and Heart Disease
Tomatoes are also rich in nutrients that directly impact heart health. This includes potassium, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate. Diets high in potassium promote a lower blood pressure. Niacin is frequently used to boost HDL cholesterol levels. Vitamin B6 and folate are needed to neutralize homocysteine, which can damage blood vessel walls and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Even lycopene has been linked to cardiovascular benefits in addition to those I listed above. Researchers tracked 40,000 women for 7 years. The women who consumed 7-10 servings of lycopene rich foods weekly (including tomatoes) had a 29% reduced risk for heart disease compared to women consuming 1.5 or fewer tomato products weekly.
A European study found lycopene intake of 8 mg daily via tomato products decreased the likelihood of LDL oxidation after just 3 weeks. Oxidation of LDL is the first step in the process of plaque formation.
A New Connection to Prevent Vascular
New research published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research further supports a link between tomatoes and vascular health.
Researchers found a tomato compound (9-oxo-octadecadienoic) that works against dyslipidemia (high cholesterol and blood fat levels). Dyslipidemia can lead to vascular diseases, such as arteriosclerosis. Researchers observed this tomato compound enhancing fatty acid oxidation, which contributed to better lipid metabolism in mice.
Add Tomatoes to Your Diet
Making tomatoes and tomato products a regular part of your daily is an easy step you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD