Lycopene, a pigment that imparts tomatoes its characteristic red color has been discovered to possess anti-clotting properties, making it ideal for prevention of strokes and heart attacks. Previous studies have already established cancer protection properties of the chemical.
According to scientists, the stickiness of platelets - the particles in blood that cause clotting - was reduced by 70 percent when 220 volunteers had a drink containing the tomato extract. Lycopene availability is considerably increased due to cooking. Therefore tomato sauce has high levels of Lycopene than tomato juice.
The finding of the clinical trials, published in the journal Platelet, said the tomato substance reduces the stickiness of platelets so they flow smoothly through blood vessels, reducing the risk of a blockage occurring.
Up to 50,000 people die each year as a result of clots caused by a build-up of platelets. Those most at risk are people who have already had a heart attack or a stroke, smokers, women on the pill, long-distance air travellers, patients of long-term illnesses and pregnant women.
'If you are at risk of having clots, or have had one, then you might as well be on medication and you should always follow your doctor's advice,' said Tony Leeds, a hospital consultant and nutritionist at King's College, London.
' ... there are a lot of people who are at risk but don't know it. If something as simple as a drink can help prevent a clot, then it is a good idea. You could, of course, get the same effect from eating tomatoes regularly.'