Tomatoes are the biggest food source for lycopene but what is lycopene and why is it important in maintaining a healthy diet? Chances are if you ate a salad today that contained fresh chopped tomatoes then you not only got a healthy dose of this powerful antioxidant, but you have also taken action in lowering your blood pressure. Recent studies indicate what heart-healthy Italians have enjoyed for decades- tomatoes and tomato sauce by extension helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tomatoes are highly effective at lowering blood pressure because of the presence of lycopene. Other antioxidants found in tomatoes also make this a super-food in the prevention of heart disease. It can even help keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing which makes it stick to the arteries and narrow the passageway causing blood pressure to increase.
The recommended dosage for having a positive impact on blood pressure is four whole tomatoes but even during peak growing season, this may be a bit of a stretch to consume. Here are some ways to reap the benefits of tomatoes without having to eat them straight off the vine:
- Prepare a Chili- Using tomato puree as the base for your chili utilizes the antioxidant without the bulk of a whole tomato. Add some lean and high protein meat of choice and kidney beans with minced garlic and onions add some cayenne pepper and you have a heart-healthy main course and a full day's allowance of tomato.
- Since using olive oil with tomatoes enhances the curative quality, make your pasta sauce red with tomatoes, tomato paste and olive oil to sauté the garlic and onion. Tomato paste used in making sauce contains more than 10 times the nutrients of a single tomato.
- Have a fresh salad as a side dish to either of these entrees and cut one whole tomato on top. You'll get one-quarter of your tomato intake right there.
- Drink tomato juice. It is better to make your own fresh juice so that you can control the sodium. Store-bought juices can be high in sugar and sodium-based preservatives. If you have a juicer, you can make some incredible veggie juices to suit your own tastes by adding carrots, celery, and some low-sodium seasonings.
- Take a tomato supplement. If you just can't stomach tomatoes, then a 200 mg supplement provides the equivalent of more than the recommended four tomatoes.
Research has proven that adding tomatoes to your diet can reduce systolic blood pressure by 10 points and diastolic pressure by 4 points. However, you slice or dice it tomatoes will keep strengthening your immune system and lower blood pressure.