A compound found in tomatoes may help fend off vascular diseases, according to a laboratory study recently published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. In tests on mice, scientists found that a substance called 9-oxo-octadecadienoic could combat dyslipidemia (a condition caused by abnormal buildup of cholesterol and/or fat in the bloodstream). By stopping dyslipidemia from setting in, the study's authors note, it may be possible to prevent vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis (also known as hardening of the arteries).
Past studies show that other substances in tomatoes might help protect against atherosclerosis. Lycopene, for instance, may reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries. An antioxidant also found in watermelon and pink grapefruit, lycopene has been found to fight prostate cancer and enhance lung health as well.