Recent studies have revealed that cooked tomatoes contain an ingredient called lycopene which could help us in our war against cardiovascular disease .
Lycopene, is a bright red carotenoid pigment, a phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits. Lycopene is the most common carotenoid in the human body and is one of the most potent carotenoid antioxidants.
Besides tomatoes other fruits and vegetables that are high in lycopene include watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, and rosehip. While nutrients such as vitamin C is often diminished upon cooking of fruits and vegetables, lycopene differs in that the processing of tomatoes only increases the concentration of bioavailable lycopene. Therefore processed tomato products such as tomato juices, sauces, ketchup and soups contain higher concentrations of lycopene.
Scientists from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)'s Nutraceutical Research Group have said that tomatoes must be cooked preferably in some form of oil, to become avaiable to our bodies.
And there has been mounting evidence that frequent intake of such products is also associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer), diabetes, male infertility and even osteoporosis.
Lycopene prevents the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as well as reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease has been identified as one of the biggest killers in the United Kingdom responsible for one in three deaths in the country every year and lycopene offers itself as an easily available weapon in the war against heart disease.