The prevalence of high blood pressure and the health risks associated with it, including cardiovascular disease and death, have made this medical condition a high priority among researchers. Along with conventional pharmaceutical approaches to lowering blood pressure, there has been much investigation into lifestyle options, including diet and supplementation. One food item that has been studied is the tomato, so a question is, can this fruit lower blood pressure?
Tomatoes are a rich source of an antioxidant called lycopene, which may be better known for an ability to help in the management of prostate cancer. High levels of lycopene also have been shown to reduce the risk of death among people with metabolic syndrome.
Although high blood pressure typically does not cause notable symptoms, some individuals may experience vision problems, fatigue, severe headache, and the presence of blood in the urine. The risk of high blood pressure is greatest among people older than 65 years and those who are overweight, smokers, and of Caribbean or African descent.
Studies of tomatoes and blood pressure
In a 2006 Israeli study, 31 individuals with hypertension took 250 mg of tomato extract daily for eight weeks. Participants showed a 10 mmHg reduction in systolic and a 4 mmHg decline in diastolic blood pressure by the end of the study period. According to Dr. Josh Axe, who was not part of this study, tomatoes are “laden with the heart-healthy nutrient lycopene, [which] has been shown to lower high blood pressure significantly, sometimes rendering drug treatments completely unnecessary.”
Subsequent research has also revealed that eating tomatoes, taking tomato extract, or using lycopene supplements can help lower blood pressure. For example, a 2014 international study found that both raw and cooked tomatoes were associated with a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. More recently, use of a standardized tomato extract given to high-risk individual with hypertension for four weeks resulted in a significant reduction in blood pressure.
To help in the management of high blood pressure, you may want to add more tomatoes to your diet. Both raw and cooked/processed tomatoes (e.g., soup, sauce, juice, paste) contain lycopene, although levels are higher in processed tomato products.
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Engelhard YN et al. Natural antioxidants from tomato extract reduce blood pressure in patients with grade-1 hypertension: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. American Heart Journal 2006 Jan; 15(1): 100
Krasinska B et al. Favourable hypotensive effect after standardised tomato extract treatment in hypertensive subjects at high estimated cardiovascular risk—a randomized controlled trial. Kardiol Pol 2017 Nov 13