Tomato extracts are one of the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. Tomatoes are a source of two heart-friendly supplements that are beneficial when your blood pressure is raised; one is lycopene and the other is an interesting substance known as ‘Fruitflow’ which helps to prevent unwanted blood clots.
Tomatoes and lycopene
Lycopene is a powerful, antioxidant carotenoid that’s best known as the red pigment in tomatoes. It is also found in pink guava, papaya, red or pink grapefruit and watermelon. Diet should always come first, and Pawpaw is one of the best fruit sources as its lycopene is stored in a liquid, crystal form that is readily absorbed.
Tomatoes are also a rich source of lycopene, but this lycopene is locked away inside cells so that when eating raw tomatoes you don’t absorb as much as when they are cooked. Cooking tomatoes releases five times more lycopene than is available when eating them raw. Tomato ketchup and concentrated tomato purée are among the most common dietary sources. Lycopene even makes some pizzas a healthy option as the olive oil added to pizza sauce triples the amount of lycopene you can absorb.
Researchers have found that people who regularly eat tomatoes are less likely to develop heart disease than those who eat them infrequently, and tomatoes are one of the reasons why a Mediterranean-based way of eating, such as the DASH diet for high blood pressure, is so healthy.
Having a good lycopene level is associated with reduced thickness of artery walls, reduced oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol which promotes hardening and furring up of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and improved dilation of artery walls.
Lycopene and high blood pressure
Research involving over 4,400 adults suggests that high intakes of carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of developing hypertension. Diet should always come first so eat more tomatoes, tomato products, papaya and watermelon – but check medication leaflets for interactions before eating grapefruit and its juice. However, there is clear evidence that for people with hypertension, taking lycopene supplements is beneficial.
The results from six studies show that lycopene supplements reduced a high blood pressure by an average of 4.95/3.8 mmHg. Higher dose lycopene supplements providing more than 12 mg per day produced significantly better results.
Taking lycopene-rich tomato extracts at a dose of 15 mg per day for six to eight weeks reduced blood pressure by 10/4 mmHg in one study, and by more than 10/5 mmHg in a study that added tomato extracts or placebo to the treatment of 54 people whose high blood pressure was not controlled on medication alone.
Supplements tend to provide between 6mg and 30mg lycopene per day. Research supports using a dose of 15mg per day if you have hypertension. If you’re male, it has the bonus of being good for the prostate gland, too.
Fruitflow for high blood pressure
Fruitflow is the name for a clear substance extracted from the jelly that surrounds tomato seeds.
A number of studies show that Fruitflow helps to keep cell clotting fragments (platelets) smooth rather than spiky so they are less likely to clump together to form unwanted blood clots.
By reducing this common complication of hardening and furring up of the arteries (atherosclerosis) this may help to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke in people with hypertension. Its effects on circulatory health are so impressive that it has already gained an approved European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) health claim that it helps to ‘maintain normal platelet aggregation, which contributes to a healthy blood flow’.
Results are in the process of publication to show that Fruitflow and omega-3 has beneficial effects on blood pressure,too.
If your blood pressure is borderline or raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
Image credit: healthspan.co.uk