When we bring spaghetti seasoned with tomato sauce to the table we are not only pleasing our taste buds, but also and above all our health. Tomato sauce, in fact, is one of the healthiest recipes there is, simple, quick to prepare, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and useful for protecting the heart and liver. This emerges from two recent scientific studies.
Tomato sauce for heart and liver health
The first research was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food by a Brazilian team (De Jesuz et al, J Med Food, 2019). The study took place in the laboratory on a population of mice and analyzed the protective effects of tomato sauce and its active ingredient, lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant contained in tomatoes and which is made available after the tomato is cooked together with extra virgin olive oil, to prepare the tomato sauce. The mice were all fed a high-fat diet. A third of the mice were also offered tomato sauce and another third lycopene. After 2 months, the mice that had been on a high-fat diet but to which tomato sauce and lycopene had been added all had lower blood sugar levels. Not only that, tomato sauce and lycopene protected the heart and liver from the damage of a high-fat diet, even reversing the processes started by an unbalanced diet and aimed at damaging these organs.
Therefore, as a conclusion, the authors of the study indicate that tomato sauce, thanks to its lycopene content, helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and fatty liver.
The secret that makes tomato sauce an ally for health
The second research appeared in the journal Nutrients and was conducted by a Spanish team (Valderas Martinez et al, Nutrients, 2016). The research is very interesting and involved 40 volunteers, all adults and healthy. Each volunteer was asked to take, on different days and always spaced by an interval of one month, 250 grams of tomato sauce cooked without oil, 250 grams of tomato sauce cooked with olive oil and 500 grams of fresh tomatoes. Before the experiment and 6 hours after ingesting the tomato-based preparations, the volunteers underwent blood tests. What emerged is that the tomato in all its forms protects the heart, improving, after a single intake, cholesterol and triglyceride values and inflammation indicators. However, the tomato sauce cooked in olive oil made it possible to further reduce inflammation, demonstrating that the tomato cooked in olive oil develops considerable potential, protecting the heart with an even greater action than the simple cooked tomato and fresh tomato. The explanation can be traced back to the fact that lycopene is made highly available in tomatoes cooked in olive oil.
Tomato sauce, properties and conclusions
Tomato sauce is therefore a precious ally for health, making available antioxidants useful for protecting the heart, liver and reducing chronic inflammation. For it to be so beneficial it is important that the tomato is cooked with a fat, in particular extra virgin olive oil is excellent. In this way lycopene, which is an antioxidant in tomatoes, is made available and can bring its benefits to the body. In any case, even raw tomatoes, as we have seen, are cardioprotective and anti-inflammatory, although to a lesser extent than the tomato sauce.