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They are common ingredients found in millions of kitchen cupboards.
But pasta sauces and pizza toppings could add much more than a tasty tomato flavour to a family’s favourite meals.
Scientists said that cooked tomatoes can have the same benefits as statins for patients battling against high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure.
They could be an ‘effective alternative’ to statins, the class of drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions which can lead to heart problems, according to a study.
And just two ounces of tomato paste or a pint of juice a day could be enough to help many patients.
The secret lies in high levels of the compound lycopene which gives ripe tomatoes their bright red colour. This powerful anti-oxidant is essential for good health as it helps lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Eating just one tomato a day would not be enough. Dr Ried said: ‘I would really recommend looking at tomato paste. It is very rich in lycopene and it is not difficult to get 50 grams a day in pasta or on a pizza or as a drink. Our study suggests that if more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce “bad” cholesterol by up to 10 per cent.