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This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease

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Researchers from China Medical University, Taiwan, investigated the health benefits of ingesting lycopene – a phytochemical found predominately in red fruits. For the experiment, 25 participants were given 280ml of tomato juice daily for two months. One 280ml glass of tomato juice contains 32.5mg of lycopene.

During the study, allied custom all participants kept to their normal diet and exercise schedule.

Measurements of cholesterol were compared pre and post intervention via blood samples.

Tomato juice was found to “significantly” reduce blood serum levels of cholesterol.

Furthermore, the ingestion of daily tomato juice also reduced body weight, body fat, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI).

READ MORE: How to live longer: The simple and free daily habit that’s linked to a longer lifespan

The NHS pointed out that obesity is one risk factor for developing heart disease; another risk factor is high cholesterol.

By drinking tomato juice, the study’s results suggest that you can remove two risk factors for heart disease.

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

A risk factor can increase the chances of developing heart disease, but it doesn’t guarantee you will develop the condition.

However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to minimise your risk as much as possible.

All risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Inactivity
  • Family history of heart disease
  • South Asian ethnic background
  • Over the age of 50
  • Male
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.

Some risk factors are unavoidable, such as family history – you can’t change what has come before you.

However, modifiable risk factors, such as inactivity can be turned around.

For instance, if you tend to be inactive in your day-to-day life, then prioritising movement in your daily life would be beneficial.

The NHS recommends that everybody does at least 150 minutes of exercise every week, which can be broken down into 30-minute daily segments, five times weekly.

As well as moving your body, eating a healthy diet can help minimise your risk of developing heart disease.

A healthy diet consists of plenty of high-fibre foods, fruit and vegetables.

Moreover, a healthy diet involves reducing how much salt, sugar, and saturated fat you eat.

The easiest way to achieve this is to not add salt to any of your dishes, and to look on the nutrition labels of ready-made foods, such as sandwiches.

Better still, if you have the time, it will be best to make your food at home.

If you prevent your risk of heart disease, you’re also lowering your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

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