Tuesday, 16 March 2010

KETCHUP FOR THE HEART, ANYONE?

When was the last time you ate tomatoes? Have you had some tomato ketchup lately? Those who are big fans of tomato and tomato products may find below some more reasons to keep tomato on top of their diet list.
A certain report states that tomato extracts can actually help lower or reduce blood pressure. Tomato extracts are said to contain a mix of antioxidants such as lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin E and other phytonutrients, all considered potent. Lycopene is actually considered to be most the most effective among the natural carotenoids. Lycopene is defined as a bright red carotenoid pigment and is a phytochemical found in red fruits such as tomato. It is also said that lycopene in addition to the being the most effective carotenoid, is also the most common carotenoid in the human body. Lycopene prevents the oxidation of low density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterols, often termed as ‘bad’ cholesterol, which also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and low blood pressure.
Aside from lowering blood pressure, tomato extracts have also been cited by certain sources as excellent materials or dietary supplements for reducing the accumulation of platelets. This is important since accumulation of platelets, although important for bodily functions such as clotting, could lead to heart attacks and strokes under certain conditions. For instance, tomato extracts have been shown to prevent thrombosis, which is a major cause of heart attack or stroke.
Another good news for those who regularly consume products with tomato extract is that it is shown to have properties that may help reduce cancer. For men, specifically, it my help prevent the occurrence of prostate cancer. It is said that the risk for prostate cancer may be lowered to as much as 30% for those who consume tomato products. This is, again, due to the lycopene content of tomato extract products which is though to observe oxygen-free radicals, thereby making the body less prone to cancer.
More recent developments include the tomato being studied as a potential source of vaccine against bird flu. However, the vaccine will be used for chickens instead of on humans. Other viral diseases for which tomato is being studied as a potential cure is HIV and hepatitis B. These tomatoes are said to be genetically modified ones, though. These vaccines are being developed so they can be taken orally. However, at this point, it seems that it is only at the stage where it is being tested in clinical trials. Aside from this, it may only be developed as a vaccine, aiding in preventive measures, but not really as a cure for the HIV or hepatitis B.
All in all, even if some of its healing properties are still being investigated at this point, there is no doubt that tomatoes still hold many wonderful properties that can help prevent or even cure certain conditions, especially those where the heart is concerned. So, for tomato extract consumers, keep on with the healthy habit and help keep your heart fit and strong.

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