Tomatoes and High Blood Pressure

November 01, 2014

Tomatoes for High Blood Pressure 

 Reference: Fuhrman Antiox Redox Sigal, Armoza J Hypertension, Kim Atherosclerosis

Tomatoes contain lycopene. Lycopene is the bright red color in tomatoes (and watermelon and beans and other veges) that is part of the pathway to making Vitamin A, or β-carotene. It has 11 double bonds in it – which are its source of strong antioxidant activity. The color is pretty intense, so it doesn’t take all that much lycopene to make a tomato pretty red.   And eating a tomato raw doesn’t get as much lycopene as cooking it. But now, along comes a constellation of research articles that really give us a better “flavor” for how useful lycopene can be. 

Hypertension is dangerous. The higher it is, the more mortality we have from cardiovascular disease.   The third hyperlink up above (KIM) is a powerpoint you can download that is a little lecture about hypertension and the benefits of lycopene. The key to understanding of high blood pressure is changing our thinking about its cause. Most of us think that high blood pressure is caused by eating too much salt and that it happens to us naturally as we get older. 

Well, that’s just not true. In those shrinking parts of the world that don't eat sugar and white flour, eat tons of vegetables and get abundant exercise, folks blood pressure drops with aging. In America, as many as 70% of us have high blood pressure by the time we are 70, making it one of the cardinal contributors to our epidemic of cardiovascular disease. 

 Ok. Explain what is the real cause of high blood pressure.   The real cause is the whole constellation of effects that cause “endothelial dysfunction”. That is a fancy term for the lining of your blood vessels getting all irritated.   And that is caused because we keep flooding our systems with oxidizing foods – most notably sugar and high glycemic foods (otherwise known as bread, cookies, donuts, bagels, milkshakes etc). Sugar, (15% of America’s calories) is 50% fructose. Fructose is a particularly wicked animal because it exhausts your liver, raises your uric acid, depletes your Nitric Oxide. Nitric oxide is the messenger in your arteries that tells them to relax. 

 There are other influences that make for inflammation in our bodies. Just being overweight raises the ante. Biopsies of your fat will show increasing white blood cells with increasing waist size, and increasing inflammatory markers flooding out of your fat. Just what does the tomato extract lycopene do for me? It is a supercharged molecule of double bonds that eagerly suck up “oxidants”. Any chemical that is floating around in your blood, waiting to cause irritation by way of oxidation gets soaked up by lycopene. That stops the whole cascade at the beginning. 

Can I get enough lycopene by eating tomatoes? Probably. But you need to eat a lot. Cooked is better. If I already have high blood pressure, will it help. Yup. 30 mg a day will lower your blood pressure as much as any blood pressure pill. And it’s just food.   Is it widely available? Well, that’s the kicker. Right now, not easily. 

 WWW. What will work for me? This might be the most effective food extract that we have found to date to battle high blood pressure.   Step one has to be weight loss to reduce the inflammation coming from fat tissue. Step two needs to be cutting the sugar and white stuff – and then add a shake of exercise and pinch of stress reduction, and watch your blood pressure drop like a rock. Your arteries will thank you   

 Pop Quiz  

  1. Lycopene is the red color in tomatoes and watermelon? T or F                        Answer:  True
  1. Lycopene is a champion antioxidant because it can soak up those chemicals that cause “oxidation” in my arteries. T or F                       Answer:  That’s it in a nutshell
  1. I can’t lower my blood pressure without getting a pill from my doctor. T or F.               Answer:   Wrong. Your doctor’s pill is likely only 25% as effective as your taking the matter into your own hands, losing weight, walking, and then taking some lycopene.
  1. I should eat more cooked tomato and tomato paste products.   Y or N                  Answer:  Sounds like a good plan
  1. And all the watermelon I want? T or F                       Answer:  Ouch. Watermelon has way too much sugar in it. Have a taste.