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Can eating more tomatoes daily help lower high blood pressure?

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Eating tomatoes has been linked to a blood pressure-lowering effect and may help avoid high blood pressure in older adults, according to a recent study.

Over a third of the study participants who consumed the most tomatoes or tomato-based products daily had a lower risk of high blood pressure.

Lycopene, which keeps blood vessel walls flexible, and potassium, which lessens the effects of sodium and regulates bodily fluid levels, are both found in tomatoes.
According to a recent study, eating tomatoes may help control hypertension in older persons with mild high blood pressure and may even reduce the chance of ever having high blood pressure.

The study found that the highest tomato or tomato-based food consumption was associated with a 36% lower risk of developing hypertension in adults without high blood pressure than the lowest consumption.

Moderate tomato consumption was linked to a drop in blood pressure in those who already had high blood pressure, particularly in those with stage 1 hypertension.

82.5% of the 7,056 participants in the research had hypertension. After being asked how many tomatoes they ate each day, they were divided into four groups: fewer than 44 grammes, 44–82 grammes (middle), 82–110 grammes (upper intermediate), and more than 110 grammes.

The study’s authors found that individuals who consumed tomatoes at the highest and intermediate levels did so at a lower diastolic blood pressure than those who consumed them at the lowest levels. When compared to individuals who drank the fewest tomatoes, those with stage 1 hypertension and intermediate tomato consumption saw a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The pressure in arteries during a heartbeat is reflected in the diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure, the higher number that represents the pressure in the arteries during a heartbeat, is expressed as the lower blood pressure number.

When compared to individuals who consumed the fewest tomatoes, the risk of high blood pressure declined in those who consumed over 110 grammes of tomatoes per day.
The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and was reported by www.medicalnewstoday.com.

Tomatoes are classified as a vegetable even though, as ripened flower ovaries with seeds, they are considered fruits. They are members of the family nightshade. Vegetables classified as nightshades include bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes (other than sweet potatoes), and spices like paprika and cayenne.

Lycopene and potassium are two of the substances in tomatoes that are most likely to be protective against hypertension.

Rosa María Lamuela-Raventós, Ph.D., co-author and head of the University of Barcelona’s Research Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, postulated that the presence of lycopene in tomatoes could play a role in the cardioprotective mechanisms that lower blood pressure.

“Lycopene, the most plentiful carotenoid in tomato, does not only reduce the angiotensin-converting enzyme and its gene expression, preventing the synthesis of angiotensin 2… but also promotes the generation of nitric oxide in the endothelium [cells that line the blood vessels] — helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow,” she explained.

Michelle Routhenstein, cardiology dietician and preventive cardiology nutritionist at EntirelyNourished.com, noted that potassium “helps balance sodium levels, regulating fluids and aiding in lower blood pressure.”

The versatility of tomatoes means that they may be eaten raw, used in salads or sandwiches, or cooked in sauces, and so on. Their method of preparation is not something the current study investigated.

However, Dr. Lamuela-Raventós suggested it is possible they provide the greatest benefit when they are cooked.

“I believe future clinical studies should consider the processing of tomatoes and home-cooking techniques,” she said, “since bioavailability of carotenoids and other antioxidants (such as polyphenols) is increased when [the] tomato is cooked,” she said.

“There are many fruits and vegetables that are known to be antihypertensive,” noted Routhenstein. “Beets and artichokes, for instance, are high sources of potassium, whereas red bell peppers and watermelon are high in lycopene.”

Is it safe to eat tomatoes while taking ACE inhibitors?

ACE inhibitors commonly prescribed for people with hypertension may elevate potassium levels, which can adversely affect people with renal dysfunction. With tomatoes so rich in potassium, might their consumption result in issues for people taking ACE inhibitors by raising these levels even more?

Routhenstein suspected not, since most modern diets contain an excess of sodium but insufficient potassium.

Sodium can cause fluid retention, and its over-consumption is a widely recognized risk factorTrusted Source for hypertension.

“On the other hand, potassium helps regulate fluid balance, counteracting the effects of sodium by promoting the excretion of excess sodium through urine,” said Routhenstein.

“This balance is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues,” said Routhenstein.

Routhenstein said that an excess of potassium “can result in high levels of potassium in the blood (also known as hyperkalemia), which might lead to irregular heartbeats, muscle weakness, and severe heart issues.”

“However, these risks are typically associated with excessive supplementation or when taking certain medications (like potassium-sparing diuretics such as spironolactone, amiloride, and triamterene) without monitoring potassium intake.”

She recommended discussing one’s optimal potassium intake with a physician.

Integrating tomatoes into daily diet

Routhenstein pointed out, “Tomatoes, with their versatility and nutritional value, effortlessly fit into diverse sustainable diets, such as the Mediterranean or plant-based approaches. From salads to sauces, utiliing tomatoes in-season, preserving for off-season use, promotes both health and environmental consciousness.”

Perhaps with this flexibility and their deliciousness — in mind, Dr. Lamuela-Raventós said:

“Tomatoes should not be viewed as a ‘magic food’ for health problems but rather as an important element of a diverse and healthy diet.”

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