Tomato extract pill may treat heart disease

Tomato extract pill may treat heart disease

  • We always stress that eating organic foods is key to optimal health. Fresh organic foods are packed with antioxidants and unique nutrients that can keep your immune system in top shape. The nutrients in these organic foods can also help prevent and treat disease.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About 600,000 people die of heart disease every year in the United States, which is 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • According to research from the University of Cambridge, a daily pill of an extract from organic tomatoes may aid blood vessel function in patients that have cardiovascular disease.
  • Organic tomatoes are known as a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which is believed to be ten times more potent than vitamin E.
  • Lycopene is activated in organic tomatoes only when they are cooked.
  • Studies have shown the ability of lycopene to protect from heart disease, including a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  • However, scientists are unsure of the mechanisms lycopene’s heart health benefits.
  • In the University of Cambridge study, which was published in PLOS One, the researchers believe they have found one mechanism in which lycopene reduces heart disease risk.
  • There’s a wealth of research that suggests that the Mediterranean diet — which includes lycopene found in tomatoes and other fruit as a component — is good for our cardiovascular health. But so far, it’s been a mystery what the underlying mechanisms could be,” explains Dr. Joseph Cheriyan, a clinical pharmacologist and physician at Addenbrooke’s hospital and a lecturer at Cambridge.
  • Cheriyan and the team performed a double blind, placebo controlled experiment to observe the effects of lycopene on blood vessel performance in forearm blood flow, which is considered a key sign of cardiovascular disease risk. Thirty-six heart disease patients and thirty-six healthy participants were given Ateronon (a supplement containing 7mg of lycopene) or a placebo. The participants were not aware of which treatment they were receiving.
  • The patients with heart disease had unhealthy endothelium, which is the inner lining of the blood vessels. The health and function of the endothelium is measured by the way the blood vessels react in the forearm when treated with a natural molecule called acetylcholine. Healthy endothelial function is very important, as it is a key factor to preventing heart disease.
  • The research team found that the heart disease patients who took the tomato pill had significantly improved endothelial function. There was no change in the healthy volunteers. The lycopene supplement also widened the blood vessels by about 53% compared to those who took the placebo. Widening blood vessels is also very important, as constriction of blood vessels can lead to heart attack and stroke.
  • We’ve shown quite clearly that lycopene improves the function of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease patients,” said Dr. Cheriyan. “It reinforces the need for a healthy diet in people at risk from heart disease and stroke. A daily ‘tomato pill’ is not a substitute for other treatments, but may provide added benefits when taken alongside other medication. However, we cannot answer if this may reduce heart disease — this would need much larger trials to investigate outcomes more carefully.”
  • Professor Jeremy Pearson, the Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “Impaired endothelial function is a known predictor of increased risk of future heart disease. Further work is needed to understand whether the beneficial effects seen in this small study translate into clinical benefit for at-risk patients.”
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