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The tomato wonder

Want to be free of high cholesterol and blood pressure? A new study claims that tomatoes are vital for good health and help lowering cholesterol.

india Updated: May 21, 2011 01:55 IST

Want to be free of high cholesterol and blood pressure (BP)? Tomatoes can be a way out. They 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, South Australia, are the first to summarise the effect of lycopene on cholesterol and blood pressure (BP), analysing the results of 14 studies over the last 55 years. "If more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce LPD (bad) cholesterol by up to 10 %," says Ried. 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.

Tomatoes"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," says Ried. Lycopene is better absorbed in cooked tomatoes or tomato paste rather than fresh tomatoes. As a supplement, lycopene is available in soft gelatin capsules or tablets. "Research shows that high lycopene consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries and strokes," she adds.

First Published: May 20, 2011 17:50 IST