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The Tomato’s Top Health Secret
In the area of food and phytonutrient research, nothing has been hotter in the last several years than studies on lycopene found in tomatoes.
Lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their delightful red colour is turning out to be a powerful health protector and one of the key components of the increasingly touted "Mediterranean Diet" for its broad reaching health benefits, particularly in the area of cardiovascular health and heart disease prevention.
The beneficial effects that lycopene has in the body are thought to be associated with its ability to act as a potent antioxidant, protecting the cells from damage by free radicals – molecules that are produced in the normal course of metabolism along with exposure to stress, pollution and environmental toxins. A good case can be made that the notion of good health depends on the balance between this "oxidative stress" and our bodies antioxidant defences.
Increasingly, studies have shown that oxidative stress and damage from these free radicals has been linked to the onset of many degenerative diseases such as arthrosclerosis, heart disease, many forms of cancer as well as neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, studies have discovered that high levels of lycopene in the blood are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in both men and women. A 2012 Finnish study of middle aged men found that those with the highest blood lycopene levels were more than 50 percent less likely to suffer a stroke!
Lycopene is not manufactured by the body and must be acquired from eating foods containing lycopene such as tomatoes. Unlike other carotenoids, its' absorption by the body or "bio-availability" is greatly increased by cooking instead of eating the raw form of the lycopene rich food. British researchers however, have recently discovered a breakthrough and patented a new lycopene formulation called "LACTO-LYCOPENE" which dramatically improves lycopene's bioavailability or absorption in the body. One capsule is equivalent to eating a kilogram of cooked tomatoes per day! – and is available in a natural health supplement called "ATERONON" – The Tomato Pill, recently launched in Canada.
Dr. Joseph Cheriyan, a senior Cambridge University pharmacologist who led the British study on Ateronon's patented lycopene compound, found that vascular function among those with cardiovascular disease improved by a remarkable 53%! Lycopene may also have cholesterol lowering properties suggested by a trial in healthy volunteers that found that the lacto-lycopene formulation in Ateronon produced a significant 14 percent reduction in LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels.
With so much new evidence and further studies ongoing to understand its' preventative health effects – lycopene is definitely living up to its' "super" antioxidant status and a key component to living a longer, healthier, disease-free life!