Tomatoes can save you from high cholesterol

Last Updated: Thu, May 19, 2011 07:10 hrs

Sydney, May 19 (IANS) Want to be free of high cholesterol and blood pressure (BP)? Tomatoes can be a way out for you!

Tomatoes may be an effective alternative to drugs in lowering cholesterol and BP and in preventing heart disease.

A bright red pigment called lycopene found in tomatoes and to a lesser extent in watermelon, guava, papaya and pink grapefruit has antioxidant properties that are vital to good health.

Karin Ried and her colleague Peter Fakler from the University of Adelaide are the first to summarise the effect of lycopene on cholesterol and blood pressure (BP), analysing the collective results of 14 studies over the last 55 years.

'Our study suggests that if more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce LPD (bad) cholesterol by up to 10 percent,' says Ried, reports the journal Maturitas.

Tomatoes have high levels of lycopene, with half a litre of tomato juice taken daily, or 50 grams of tomato paste, providing protection against heart disease, according to an Adelaide statement.

'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,' says Ried.

Lycopene is better absorbed in processed and cooked tomatoes or tomato paste rather than fresh tomatoes. As a supplement, lycopene is available in soft gelatine capsules or tablets.

'Research shows that high lycopene consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes,' she adds.