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Health News Archive 210 - Blood Pressure
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Lycopene Reduces Blood Pressure

Clinical research conducted at Ben-Gurion University, Israel shows that lycopene complex, a tomato extract, reduces blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension.

In a random double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, Dr. Esther Paran, M.D., evaluated the effect of tomato extract on blood pressure, endothelial function and plasma lycopene levels in grade I hypertensive patients. A daily intake of tomato extract Lyc-O-Mato® in softgel capsules, produced by LycoRed Ltd., was linked to a significant drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after eight weeks of supplementation of a normal diet.

This new research helps confirm results from two similar studies, including one study in 2001 on natural tomato extract that appeared in the January 2006 issue of The American Heart Journal. Results showed that natural tomato extract helps reduce systolic blood pressure. These results are clinically significant since they are similar to those achieved through the use of prescription drugs.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in red produce such as tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. In this study, a small group of people with stage 1 hypertension took 250 milligrams of tomato extract daily -- containing about 15 milligrams of lycopene -- for 8 weeks. At the end of the study period, participants' systolic blood pressure dropped to an average of 134 mm Hg from an average of 144 mm Hg, while diastolic pressure dropped to about 83 mm Hg from an average of about 87 mm Hg.

“The results of this study are particularly important because our subjects had previously been unsuccessful at lowering their blood pressure using one or two drug methods,” Dr. Paran said. “We attribute the reduction in blood pressure to the antioxidant activity of the tomato extract and the increase in nitric oxide.”

These encouraging new findings, presented at the American Society of Hypertension’s 20th Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition, provide additional evidence that natural tomato extract helps lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) more than 50 million Americans now suffer from hypertension, a condition that may affect as many as 90 percent of people age 55 or older. High blood pressure also strikes about one in four people age 20 or older.

Upon reviewing the study results, Cathleen London, M.D., a family physician from Boston, MA, commented, “Most hypertension patients require more drugs to achieve their goal blood pressure, which increases the potential for side effects. This research indicates that natural tomato extract is safe and effective as an adjunct therapy.”

“Eating a diet rich in tomato products and other antioxidant-containing fruits and vegetables is certainly a smart move,” said Dr. Paran, “But, a person would need to consume about five tomatoes to get the nutrients in one tomato extract capsule.”

Other recent studies suggest that tomato lycopene complex also provides a considerable level of defense against degenerative diseases, including heart disease. Considering the results of these studies, combined with Lyc-O-Mato® s positive effects on blood pressure, the importance of maintaining an optimal level of natural phytonutrients like lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and beta-carotene in the human body is evident.

Source: Natural antioxidants from tomato extract reduce blood pressure in patients with grade-1 hypertension: A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Engelhard, Y. N., Gazer, B., Paran, E., American Heart Journal 2006 Jan;151(1):100.

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