To lower your LDL, dribble this sauce on pasta, hot sandwiches, and warm flatbreads: marinara.
In a study, adults who had high cholesterol but were otherwise healthy were able to lower their LDL levels simply by eating lycopene-rich tomato products every day.
You Say Tomato
In the study, both men and women consumed at least 25 milligrams of lycopene every day for several weeks. That's about as much lycopene as you'd find in a mere half-cup serving of tomato sauce. By the end of the study period, most people had knocked their LDL levels down about 10 percent -- which is the kind of improvement you'd expect to see in someone taking a statin medication for a similar amount of time. Researchers think that lycopene reduces cholesterol in a couple of different ways -- both by inhibiting the production of LDL and by breaking down this artery-clogging blood fat. (Related: Find out if a daily low-dose aspirin could be good for your heart.)
Lowering your bad (LDL) cholesterol can make your RealAge 3.3 years younger if you are a man and 0.6 years younger if you are a woman. Take the RealAge Test!
Lycopene also helps protect LDL against oxidation. And that's a very good thing, because oxidized LDL spells trouble for blood vessels. When LDL oxidizes, it causes arterial inflammation -- red, unhealthy tissue in the artery where blood-flow-blocking plaques can more easily form. LDL also impairs the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps blood vessels relax. To get the beneficial amount of lycopene recommended in the study, you can add more tomato sauce to your day or enjoy a cup of tomato soup or tomato juice daily. (Related: Discover more foods high in lycopene.)