Vegetables have different nutrients and vitamins and it is very good to incorporate them into daily meals for good health. Now, science has discovered that a compound vegetable whose main macronutrient is carbohydrates, has many health benefits and can be consumed every day.
It is the tomato and a recent study delved into the relationship of this vegetable with the main cardiovascular risk factor: hypertension. Specifically, the research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, concluded that daily consumption of both tomatoes and products based on this food reduces the risk of hypertension by 36%.
Tomato is a vegetable with many benefits. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
To obtain this percentage, the authors of the work asked 7,056 participants (82.5% of them hypertensive) how much tomato they consumed per day. The responses were divided into four groups: those who ate less than 44 grams per day, those who ate between 44 and 82 grams, those who ate between 82 and 110 grams and those who consumed more than 110 grams per day.
The results showed that people who ate an intermediate and maximum amount of tomato reduced their pressure, both diastolic (that which occurs between beats when the heart fills with blood) and systolic (the pressure that occurs at the moment when the heart fills with blood). The ventricles pump blood out of the heart.
Why blood pressure decreased
The mechanisms involved in reducing high blood pressure could be attributed to the presence of lycopene, the most studied component of tomato that blocks the production of angiotensin, a protein that promotes an increase in blood pressure. Other cardioprotective elements of tomatoes are their particular flavonoid compounds and vitamin C, due to their antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects.
The consequences of tomato and lycopene intake on hypertension were evaluated in epidemiological studies, which showed that their consumption reduced the risk of stroke (26%), mortality (37%) and cardiovascular diseases (14%).
Tomatoes can be added to a pasta dish. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
“Consistent with our results in hypertension, a high intake of lycopene improves cardiovascular health in elderly and overweight participants by reducing the risk of stroke,” says the new study, which also points out that a decrease of 6 % in high blood pressure when drinking a tomato extract drink (equivalent to six tomatoes) in prehypertensive participants.
Tomato not only has beneficial properties for the heart, as its positive effects on cognitive functions have also been demonstrated. In this sense, research published in Neurology highlighted that a higher dietary intake of flavonoids is associated with a slower rate of deterioration in global cognition.
What type of tomato has the highest amount of lycopene?
Tomatoes are mainly composed of water, while their main macronutrient is carbohydrates.
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Among the vitamins, it is worth highlighting the vitamin A content. According to the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN), one serving of tomato covers 61% of the recommended intakes of vitamin C for the population. About lycopenes, the amount depends on this component:
Of the cultivated variety (much higher in the plum tomato). Of the degree of maturity. The more mature the vegetable is, the more lycopenes it will have. The way it is grown and the way it is ripened (higher in those grown outdoors and ripened on the plant).
Finally, crushed or cooked tomato, as well as its combination with oil, improves the absorption of lycopene in the body, according to the FEN.