A recent study has revealed that taking a "tomato pill" everyday may benefit people who are suffering with heart diseases.

The study was conducted by Dr. Joseph Cheriyan, consultant clinical ­pharmacologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital and associate lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and his team.

According to an Express report, lycopene is a potent antioxidant that is particularly found in red fruits and vegetables such as tomato and red carrots. For the purpose of the study, the researchers gave 72 participants a supplement pill called Ateronon, which contained seven milligrams of lycopene for two months. The total number of participants included 36 individuals who were suffering from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and 36 of the participants were healthy.

The researchers found that the tomato pill helped widen the blood vessels of 36 patients, who were suffering with CVDs, by over 50 percent. The pill did not have any effect on participants who had normal blood vessels.

Narrowing of blood vessels is considered as one of the primary factors that contributes to heart attacks or strokes, which in turn is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people globally.

"We've shown quite clearly that lycopene improves the function of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease patients. It reinforces the need for a healthy diet in people at risk from heart disease and stroke," says Cheriyan. "A daily 'tomato pill' is not a substitute for other treatments, but may provide added benefits when taken alongside other medication. However, we cannot answer if this may reduce heart disease - it would need much larger trials to investigate outcomes carefully."

Scientists say that lycopene is considered 10 times more powerful than vitamin E. Previous researches have also indicated that the potency of lycopene is increased when it is consumed in a pureed form, as in ketchup, and when mixed with olive oil. Lycopene also has other medicinal benefits as prior studies suggest that it can help to ward off prostate cancer and improve sperm concentration in an individual.

Jeremy Pearson, the associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, says that further research is needed to establish if favorable effects found in the study can explain clinical benefits or improvements to the heart health of patients.

The latest study was published on June 9, in the journal PLOS One

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