A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and feeling weak. Eating more of this food type could help you reduce your risk of developing the dangerous condition.
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The British Heart Foundation said: “Incidence of cardiovascular disease is lower in countries where people typically eat a Mediterranean-style diet based on lots of vegetables, fruit, beans and cereal products.
“Research investigated the theory that lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red colour, could be partly responsible for this diet’s benefits.
“The researchers found that when people with cardiovascular disease who took statins were also given a chemical to widen their blood vessels, their blood vessels widened to a greater extent if they had been taking a lycopene pill every day for two months rather than a placebo.”
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is a plant nutrient with antioxidant properties.
It’s the pigment which gives red and pink fruits, such as tomatoes, their characteristic colour.
Lycopene has been linked to health benefits ranging from heart health to protection against sunburns and certain types of cancers.
What the study said
In a study with the National Library of Medicine, the relationship of lycopene intake and consumption of tomato products in preventing cardiovascular disease was investigated.
The study noted: “The present study of lycopene intake and cardiovascular disease provides supporting evidence for an inverse association between lycopene and cardiovascular disease risk.
“Additional research is needed to determine whether lycopene or other components of tomatoes, the major dietary source of lycopene, are responsible for the observed association.”
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Lycopene found in tomatoes may help lower the risk of one developing or prematurely dying from heart disease.
More specifically, lycopene may reduce free radical damage, total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
High blood levels of lycopene may also add years to the lives of people with metabolic syndrome which is a combination of health conditions which can lead to heart disease.
In addition to eating tomatoes to help reduce the risk of having a heart attack, a person should aim to eat other staples found in a Mediterranean-style diet.
The NHS said: “Replace butter and cheese with products based on vegetables and plant oil, such as olive oil.
“Oily fish, such as herring, sardines and salmon, can form part of a Mediterranean-style diet, but there’s no need to eat this type of fish specifically to try prevent a heart attack.
“Furthermore, taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or eating foods fortified with omega-3 fatty acids could help prevent heart attacks.”
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