Tomatoes Reduce Hardening of Arteries
New research has confirmed that lycopene, the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red, lowers the risk of hardening of the arteries. A 2011 study from researchers at the San Camillo de Lellis Hospital Cardiology Unit in Foggia, Italy, used ultrasonic testing and blood tests to determine that those with higher blood levels of lycopene have significantly reduced incidence of atherosclerosis in the carotid artery.
The study examined 120 human subjects. After complete physical exams and blood testing, ultrasonic testing determined their level of thickening of the artery walls in the carotid artery. The carotid artery travels from the heart to the brain. A hardening of that artery can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain, along with stroke and heart attack.
The analysis found that 58 of the subjects had progressive carotid atherosclerosis. Those with carotid atherosclerosis had higher concentrations of triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and total cholesterol in their bloodstreams. They also had lower levels of lycopene.
The researchers concluded that, “These data suggest that higher serum levels of lycopene may play a protective role versus cardiovascular diseases, in particular carotid atherosclerosis.”
This study confirms mounting evidence for lycopene as a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce the hardening of the arteries because they neutralize lipid oxidizing radicals that harm the cells of artery walls.
Riccioni G, Scotti L, Di Ilio E, Bucciarelli V, Ballone E, De Girolamo M, D’ Orazio N, Martini F, Aceto A, Bucciarelli T. Lycopene and preclinical carotid atherosclerosis. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2011 Jul-Sep;25(3):435-41.