The ripe, juicy tomato in your salad, atop your burger, or sautéed into sauce is not only a taste sensation, but a potential life saver.

According to the January 2006 edition of the American Heart Journal, lycopene may lower blood pressure in people with mildly high blood pressure. In a small study, lycopene was tested for its effects on blood pressure in people with mild hypertension. For an eightweek period, 31 people took 15 milligrams of lycopene daily. During that time, blood pressure readings lowered significantly for both systolic and diastolic pressures. On average, the volunteers reduced their status from mild hypertension to high normal blood pressure levels. Researchers believe that lycopene may help prevent the progression of hypertension and postpone the need for medication.

The test product used was a brand of lycopene called Lyc-O-Mato, a tomato-based extract that contains small amounts of betacarotene, vitamin E, and other nutrients that occur naturally in tomatoes. Lycopene has also been shown to be beneficial for asthma, prostate cancer, heart disease, and immune function. No other supplements were allowed during the course of the study.

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