Do you know that tomato and carrot have more in common than their fascinating colours? Well, in case you are not aware, recent studies have shown that beyond the potency of their pigments lie powerful phytochemicals that help combat high blood pressure and other heart diseases.
According to a study published in the American Heart Journal, a short-term treatment with antioxidant-rich tomato extract can reduce blood pressure in patients with grade-1 hypertension, naive to drug therapy.
The research, titled, “Natural antioxidants from tomato extract reduce blood pressure in patients with grade-1 hypertension” was a single-blind, placebo-controlled trial. 31 subjects with grade-1 hypertension, without concomitant diseases, who required no antihypertensive or lipid-lowering drug therapy, and who were recruited from primary care clinics, completed the trial.
Having subjected the patients to a four week placebo period, then an eight week treatment period with tomato extract, the result indicated that the systolic blood pressure decreased from 144 (SE +/- 1.1) to 134 mm Hg (SE +/- 2, P < .001), and diastolic blood pressure decreased from 87.4 (SE +/- 1.2) to 83.4 mm Hg (SE +/- 1.2, P < .05).
Tomatoes can be prepared in different ways, which include: cooking them with soups, putting them in salads, using them as garnish, and so on. There are other juices one can mix tomato juice with to form a perfect blend. These include beetroot juice that is freshly squeezed and also carrot juice. One can even mix other vegetable juices along with the tomato juice and drink.
Vegetable juices can be made from fresh celery, carrots or cucumbers. Beetroot juice mixed with tomato juice is very beneficial in preventing increase in blood pressure.
Carrot also is rich in Beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant which helps in maintaining a healthy skin and also keeping one away from many diseases. It is also said to have potassium in it, which helps to balance the high levels of sodium associated with hypertension and keeps blood pressure under control.
The high soluble fibre content in carrot reduces cholesterol by binding LDL, the bad cholesterol, and also increases the HDL, which helps in reducing blood clots and heart diseases. It is a good source of alkaline elements, which purify and revitalise the blood, and balances the acid alkaline ratio in the body.
In a chat with the Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Dr Francis Aminu, on the nutritional benefits of tomato and carrot, he revealed that the high lycopene content in tomato and carrot is responsible for the decrease in blood pressure in humans.
According to him, “a meta-analysis performed on the effect of lycopene on systolic blood pressure of all trails suggested a significant blood pressure reducing effect (-5. 60 + 5.26 mmHg), but no significant effect on diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure lowering properties of lycopene have been attributed to the stimulation of nitric oxide production in the endothelium.
“In addition, it’s been found to prevent cancer of the breast, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, stomach, lung, ovaries, pancreas, and prostate. It is also used to prevent diabetes, diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease), cataracts, and asthma.”
Aminu further stated that leveraging on emerging science about tomatoes and tomato products may be one simple and effective strategy to help individuals increase vegetable intake, leading to improved overall eating patterns, and ultimately, better health.
Clarifying the nutritional difference between the heated and the fresh tomato, he noted, contrary to popular opinion, that tomato products subjected to the heat process have increased bioavailability of Lycopene rather than the anticipated decrease.
Aminu, who is also a public health nutritionist, said that “the nutritional content of fresh vegetables depends on various factors, including seasonality and availability in the region. Many vegetables travel long distances to end up in the produce section of the local grocery store. When vegetables are shipped across several states, they are exposed to extreme light, heat, and temperature conditions, which can cause a loss of important nutrients, such as thiamine and vitamins A and C. Many fresh vegetables that travel many miles by truck or boat are harvested before they reach peak ripeness, so vitamins and nutrients have not had the time to reach complete potency. The produce still may show outward signs of ripening, but the vegetables will never have the same nutritional composition as fully developed plants.”
Nutritional benefits of tomato
Dr Aminu also explained the phytonutrients of the duo, stating that tomatoes and tomato products are very rich in lycopene, while carrots are rich in carotene, both of which are hypertension-reducing phytochemicals.
Tomatoes and tomato-based foods account for more than 85 per cent of all the dietary sources of lycopene. Eating a medium sized fresh tomato can provide a person with about 23 mg of the daily requirement for Vitamin C. Some other vitamins found in tomato juice include Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and small quantities of Vitamin B12.
Vitamin A is very essential for maintaining good teeth and strong bones. This is especially important for growing children. The listed B vitamins help in increasing one’s energy and keeping the nervous system healthy.
Tomato juice also helps in the prevention of eczema in some people. Some other health benefits that one gets from drinking Tomato juice include aid in the prevention of eye diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
Drinking tomato juice regularly also helps in preventing prenatal health issues. The tomato juice nutritional content table indicates that tomatoes also contain niacin, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. Some of the main minerals that are found in tomatoes include calcium, sodium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, iron, copper, zinc and chromium.
Additionally, raw tomato juice is found to contain potassium. This is an essential mineral that is required for the human body to reduce malaise and general overall body weakness.
Tomato juice is recommended for people who are suffering from heart conditions or who are recovering from heart attacks. This juice is almost always recommended for most patients who are recovering from various diseases.
Tomato juice’s benefits for the skin, as well as the face, are widely known among people all over the world. Drunk twice a day, it is found in some cases to reduce the presence of acne and get rid of an acne infection faster.
One can make a face pack using fresh tomato base. One should apply this puree over the affected areas of one’s skin at least twice in a day for 10 to 15 minutes each time. Rinse this mixture off with some warm water.
Tomato juice can be mixed with other fresh fruits or vegetables to make great face packs. Try mixing some tomato juice with pieces of freshly cut papaya and try applying this on the face for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then wash off gently with warm water for best results.
Similarly tomato juice can be mixed with other fresh ingredients to make some of the best face cleansers and packs.
The vitamin A found in tomato juice is also beneficial for good hair growth. It helps in keeping one’s hair strong and shiny. Some other tomato juice benefits for men include the good effects it has on improving one’s appetite and also in aiding good digestion.
Tomato juice is rich in Vitamin C, which is additionally very good for pregnant women. Vitamin C is also known for its ability to enhance one’s immune system. One can try drinking tomato juice for arthritis-related problems. Tomato juice also helps in the prevention of inflammation and pain that is associated with arthritis.
One could make use of tomato juice for alcoholics, in order to get rid of the effects of a hangover. To lower the severity of a hangover, one should mix about 100 ml of freshly squeezed tomato juice along with the same quantity of cucumber juice and about 10 ml of spinach juice. To this, add a tablespoon of olive oil. The person should drink this tomato juice cocktail before they go to bed.
Tomato juice is also known for its ability to prevent constipation problems. This juice should be mixed with fresh spinach juice. It helps to activate the person’s liver and thus prevent them getting constipated.
One could also use tomato juice for diabetes because of its nutritional properties. Tomato juice is also recommended for those who are suffering from kidney stones and gall stones. For this, the patients are advised to eat the tomatoes without any seeds in them. Tomato juice also works as a natural antiseptic and thus helps in guarding the human body against any kind of common infections in day to day life. Tomato juice can also help in stopping diarrhea in some cases.
Nutritional benefits of carrot
- The high soluble fibre content in carrot reduces cholesterol by binding LDL, the bad cholesterol, and also increases the HDL, which helps in reducing blood clots and heart diseases.
- Carrots are great for dental health, as they kill harmful germs in the mouth and prevent tooth decay.
- Carrots aid digestion by increasing saliva and supplying the minerals, vitamins and enzymes required for it.
- Regular consumption of carrots helps in preventing gastric ulcers and digestive disorders.
- Raw carrots are used as a home remedy for treating worms in children.
- Raw or grated carrots can be used for wounds, cuts and inflammation.
- Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which are beneficial to blood sugar regulation.
- Carrots contain a phyto-nutrient called falcarinol, which helps in promoting colon health and a reducing the risk of cancers.
- Consuming carrots regularly is known to improve the quality of breast milk in mothers.
- It also helps in increasing the menstrual flow.
- Consuming carrots regularly can improve the appearance of skin, hair, nails etc and also improve eye health.
References: FPharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan-Jun; 5(9): 30–40; Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry and Vol. 1 No. 1 2012 www.phytojournal.com Page | 33