A Tomato a Day Could Keep the Doctor Away


Despite the citizens of the United States of America having reached new levels of obesity in the past few years, an obsession with health has also come into prominence. Wherever we look, we’re confronted by advertisements for ‘detox juices’ and new diet crazes which promise to ‘reinvent’ your life. The current phase appears to be for gluten free diets and the usual crew: the Dukan diet, 5:2 diet and, of course, the infamous diet pills. However, it’s not just weight loss that we’re obsessed with; it’s the health benefits too. So, with celebrities and health guru’s alike raving about the new tomato pill, the main question is; does it actually work?

So, one of the main risks as far as obesity is concerned is heart disease. Scientists in the United Kingdom have recently carried out a small study, in which they tested the effectiveness of tomato pills. And the results? Well, they found out that, when testing the tomato pill on seventy two adults, it improved the way in which blood vessels function.

One of the main components of tomatoes, lycopene, which is the natural antioxidant (yes, I am sure that the health fanatics among you sat up straighter at the word ‘antioxidant’) and is also what gives tomatoes their distinctive red colour.

Not An excuse

Now, before you all get carried away, let me make it clear that a tomato pill a day is not going to solve all your problems. Whilst taking the pill may have significant benefits, the only way to see improvements, is to take the pill in conjunction with other medicine. Taking a tomato pill is not an excuse to eat unhealthily all the time, either. In fact, if you take one pill a day but still eat bag after bag of crisps, you will not get any healthier.

Italian Envy

Now, you don’t have to take a tomato pill a day; you could just eat lots of tomatoes. We all know that the Mediterranean diet is extremely healthy (how else to French and Italian women seem to stay so thin) and, guess what the Mediterranean diet is rich in? Yes, you guessed it; it’s tomatoes. For a while now, leading scientific researchers have suspected that lycopene is extremely good when it comes to preventing illnesses, as well as aiding a swift recovery. Recent research has found that lycopene has a profound impact on those suffering with certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Recent research has shown that those whose diet consists of a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and olive oil, are far less susceptible to heart-related problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. The University of Cambridge found that, a daily supplement of tomato extract could drastically improve the function of blood vessels in patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin E VS Lycopene

Whilst a lot of people continue to rave about vitamin E, lycopene is actually ten times more potent than vitamin E. Research has shown that, the potency of lycopene is greater when it is either purified or in the presence of olive oil. Although scientists have established that lycopene has a positive effect on the blood vessels in the heart, exactly how it does, we are unsure

The Experiment Behind It

To investigate the effects of lycopene on blood vessels, scientists carried out random, double blind, placebo controlled, interventional trials. In these trials, they investigated the effects of lycopene on the blood vessels in the forearm which, according to scientists, is predictive as far as cardiovascular risk is concerned. In the study, thirty six patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, as well as thirty six healthy volunteers, were given either a lycopene supplement, or a placebo treatment. Due to the fact that it was a double blind trial, neither the researchers of the people who were participating in the study knew which treatment they were administering or receiving.

The patients who participated in the study were all taking statins, which are drugs which lower your cholesterol. Despite this, the function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of the blood vessels, was still noticeably impaired when it was compared to that of the healthy volunteers. If you have a healthy endothelium, should you suffer from cardiovascular disease, there will be more chance as far as preventing the evolution of the disease is concerned.

In the study, the researchers found that even a supplement with only a small amount of lycopene (7mg) improved or normalised the endothelial function in the patients who suffered from cardiovascular disease. However, as far as the ‘healthy’ volunteers were concerned, there was little or no impact. According to the study, taking a lycopene supplement widens the blood vessels by 53%. Regretfully, the supplement did not have any effect on blood pressure, arterial stiffness of the levels of lipids.

The Tomato Pill Cannot Stand Alone

Researchers continue to stress that, if you do suffer from cardiovascular disease, ceasing your consumption of medication in favour of the ‘tomato pill’ will not help. Although many leading scientists already suspect that a daily ‘tomato pill’ may reduce heart disease, many stress that further tests will be needed before they can be certain. As far as at risk patients are concerned, further research is required before the new-found knowledge is used for treating patients who suffer from heart disease.


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