Tomatoes may boost heart health

Have you been getting your antioxidants lately? Many people don't, which is unfortunate considering the host of potential health benefits that these healthy vitamins and nutrients can bring. For example, vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, may benefit joint health, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Furthermore, all antioxidants help protect you from the effects of the free radicals that you encounter in your everyday life,
such as pollution from car exhaust and cigarette smoke.

Now, a recent study conducted by scientists from the University of Eastern Finland showed that lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, may be able to boost cardiovascular health and reduce a person's risk of experiencing a heart problem.

Even more reason to eat fruits and vegetablesAccording to the scientists, men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood were 55 percent less likely to experience a cardiovascular issue than those who were not consuming the antioxidant.

"The results support the recommendation that people get more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which would likely lead to a major reduction in the number of [heart problems] worldwide, according to previous research," said study author Jouni Karppi, Ph.D.

While consuming tomatoes is a great way to get lycopene into your diet, the Mayo Clinic states that there are also supplements that contain this nutrient. People who may need to get more lycopene include those who smoke tobacco and drink alcohol regularly, since these substances may release more free radicals into the body.

Other antioxidants for heart health
Of course, lycopene is not the only antioxidant that has been associated with improvements in cardiovascular health. For example, the Mayo Clinic adds that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, may be beneficial to the heart.

There are also many foods that may improve your cardiovascular health. Purple potatoes, for instance, have been shown to have a variety of antioxidants that may help the heart, such as a phenolic acids, anthocyanins and carotenoids.

Also, salmon contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that have been associated with cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends that people increase the amount of omega-3s they eat each week if they want to keep the organ in good shape. This healthy lipid can also be found in olive oil, flaxseed, walnuts and avocados.