Australian scientists have found that cooked tomatoes can have the same benefits as statins for patients battling against high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure, which can lead to heart problems.
Their study revealed tomatoes could be an effective alternative to statins, the class of drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions. Tomatoes contain high levels of a powerful anti-oxidant, lycopene, which helps lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The compound also gives the veggie its bright red colour when ripen.
Cooked tomatoes are best as tests showed the body can absorb more lycopene from these than raw fruit.
The experts, who analysed the results of 14 international studies into the benefits of lycopene over the past 55 years, concluded that it could provide a natural defence to raised levels of so-called ‘bad cholesterol’ or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood.
The effect was comparable to small doses of statins that are used to treat patients with high cholesterol or blood pressure.
One of the study’s authors, Karin Ried, of the University of Adelaide, said half a litre of tomato juice or 50 grams of tomato paste daily ‘would provide protection against heart disease’.