Tomatoes are a source of two heart-friendly supplements that are beneficial when you have hypertension: one is lycopene and the other is an interesting substance known commercially as ‘Fruitflow’.
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, but its lycopene is locked away inside cells so that 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 they are one of the reasons why a Mediterranean-based way of eating, such as the DASH diet for hypertension, 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.
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.
Supplements tend to provide between 6mg and 30mg lycopene per day. Research supports using a dose of 15mg per day if you have hypertension.
Fruitflow is the name for a 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’.
|Healthspan’s Lycopene capsules are made to pharmaceutical standard. Each capsule provides 150mg standardised tomato extract, containing 15mg of natural lycopene from non-GMO tomatoes.
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LifeExtension’s Mega Lycopene 15mg is also made to pharmaceutical standard to support vascular (and prostate) health.View offers on Amazon.co.ukCheck price on Amazon.com
|Ateronon is a tomato extract developed by Cambridge scientists to make tomato lycopene more soluble. Bound in a milk-derived complex to boost absorption, each capsule supplies 7mg lycopene plus thiamin, selenium, vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid. Used in clinical trials, Ateronon has been shown to improve cholesterol balance and reduce the oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol.
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CardioMato High Potency Formula contains a Tomato Nutrient Complex that provides 15mg lycopene, plus phytosterols (lower cholesterol), vitamin E, betacarotene and thiamine (vitamin B1) to help maintain healthy heart function. Vew price on Amazon.co.uk and Boots.com
Healthspan’s Circulease provides 150mg of Fruitflow extract, plus 300mg potassium (which helps too lower blood pressure) plus vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin) and B12 for their beneficial effects on the heart and circulation.
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Swanson Ultra Circulatory Health Formula capsules supply 1 gram of lycopene-free, fruitflow rich tomato concentrate. The daily dose is 3 capsules taken together, per day. View price on Amazon.co.ukSee price at Amazon.com
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.
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