Tomatoes may help ward off heart disease

Tomatoes provide protection against heart disease, according to University of Adelaide researchers. A University of Adelaide study has shown that tomatoes may be an effective alternative to medication in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, thus preventing cardiovascular disease. A paper published by Dr Karin Ried in the international journal Maturitas reveals clinical evidence that a bright red pigment called lycopene found in tomatoes and to a lesser extent in watermelon, guava, papaya, pink grapefruit and rosehip has antioxidant properties that are vital to good health.Dr Ried and her colleague Dr Peter Fakler from the Discipline of General Practice are the first to summarise the effect of lycopene on cholesterol and blood pressure, analysing the collective results of 14 studies in the last 55 years. “Our study suggests that if more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce LDL-cholesterol

by up to 10%,” Dr Ried says.Tomatoes in particular have high levels of lycopene, with half a litre of tomato juice taken daily, or 50 grams of tomato paste, providing protection against heart disease.”That’s comparable to the effect of low doses of medication commonly prescribed for people with slightly elevated cholesterol, but without the side effects of these drugs, which can include muscle pain and weakness and nerve damage.” Dr Ried says lycopene is better absorbed in processed and cooked tomatoes or tomato paste rather than fresh tomatoes. As a supplement, lypocene is available in soft gelatine capsules or tablets. “Research shows that high lycopene consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes.” Dr Ried says more research is needed to explore whether doses higher than 25-44 milligrams of lypocene a day provide additional benefits. The study was funded by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Dr Ried and her colleagues have received international recognition for other clinical studies which show the benefits of both garlic and dark chocolate in helping to lower blood pressure. Dr Karin Ried is Research Fellow and Program Manager of the PHCRED (Primary Health Care Research Evaluation & Development) program at The University of Adelaide since 2006.Karin has over 15 years experience in medical and public health research. She

completed her PhD in Molecular Biology/Human Genetics at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and came to Australia in 1997 to undertake post-doctoral research on cancer genes at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. Karin extended her knowledge in health sciences with a Graduate Diploma in Public Health at the University of Adelaide (2001) and a Certificate in Integrative Medicine (2009).Dr Ried’s research interest is in complementary and integrative medicine with a focus on nutritional health. Her research projects encompass public health nutrition and epidemiology, infant nutrition, gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular health, bone health, and women’s health. In her current role as PHCRED Program Manager, Karin is responsible for mentoring PHCRED funded researchers and managing and developing capacity building activities, including workshops on research methods. Karin has expertise in quantitative research, in particular in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, questionnaire design and survey methods, as well as in various aspects of qualitative research. In 2010, Karin took on the role as Honours Convenor for the School of Population Health & Clinical Practice.Qualifications; PhD, MSc, GDPH, Cert Integrative Medicine. Research Interests; Integrative medicine, Nutritional health, cardiovascular health, bone health, gastrointestinal health, women’s health, Traditional Chinese Medicine. Current projects include Nutritional medicine for hypertension and hypercholesteremia, unexplained infertility and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  News from: University of Adelaide Australia

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