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Lycopene-Rich Tomato Paste Linked to Heart Health Benefits

Red tomato sauces may be healthy as well as delicious. A recent study suggests that consuming tomato paste-especially when cooked with olive oil-may improve the blood vessel's ability to relax, also known as flow-mediated dilation (FMD).

The researchers who conducted the study are from Athens Medical School. The study was published in the journal Nutrition Research on May 17, 2012.

The study included 19 participants with an average age of 39. They consumed their regular diet with a supplementation of 70 grams of tomato paste containing 33.3 mg of lycopene for two weeks. Following a two week washout period, the participants then consumed to their regular diet without the supplementation.

The researchers found no changes in FMD after one day of supplementation but noticed a 3.3% improvement after 15 days.

Researchers believe that the high amount of the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes is the cause of the heart health benefits seen here. Lycopene has also been linked to bone health and skin health.

If you want to increase lycopene levels you may want to consider taking a lycopene supplement, or increasing your consumption of red-pigmented foods such as peppers and papayas.

Certain diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, are also high in lycopene. The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and healthy oils, such as those found in fish, olives, and nuts

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