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June 2024
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Liking Lycopene

Researchers Say Lycopene Stimulates Greater Blood Flow

Lycopene, which is an antioxidant found abundantly in tomatoe sauce, has been shown to increase blood flow.

Lycopene, which is an antioxidant found abundantly in tomatoe sauce, has been shown to increase blood flow.

Every rule has its exceptions.

For example, nine times out of 10, I’d recommend your eating vegetables raw rather than cooked.  That’s because cooked vegetables lack the nutritional might that raw vegetables do, as the heating process knocks out a fair amount of fiber and a vast amount of vitamins (in broccoli for instance, vitamin C content drops 20 percent after boiling).

But one big exception to the cooked versus raw rule is with tomatoes .  Because tomatoes are one of the few vegetables that produces more of a certain antioxidant when it’s cooked rather than left in raw form.

The antioxidant I speak of is lycopene.  Lycopene isn’t exclusive to tomatoes (it’s also found in grapefruits and watermelon) but it’s definitely the first source you want to go to for a high dose of it, specifically cooked tomatoes (i.e. tomato sauce or paste).  While you’ll get a good dose of lycopene from a raw tomato, you’ll get four times more from its offshoots, like tomato paste or tomato sauce.

Like other antioxidants , lycopene is known for its disease and free radical fighting.  It’s heralded for being great for the skin, protecting the heart , and fighting off cancer-causing tumors.

And based on the results from a South Korea study, lycopene can add a new function to its already impressive repertoire:  improving blood flow.

After testing the blood samples of approximately 265 women between the ages of 31 and 75, researchers found that those women who had the highest levels of lycopene also had the lowest brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, or baPWV.

BaPWV is a new measurement doctors use to assess someone’s risk for atherosclerosis.  The higher the measurement, the stiffer the blood vessels are.  The lower the number, the more free-flowing blood travels.

The study was conducted by Korean researchers from Yonsei University in South Korea.  It’s published in the appropriately titled journal Atherosclerosis .

This is an exciting find for anyone who enjoys a heaping helping of marinara sauce on a bed of whole wheat pasta, or a smear of organic tomato paste on a toasted English muffin.

How great it is to know that foods we associate with guilty indulgences are actually great for our bodies

As the French say, Bon appetite!


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