These researchers measured tomato consumption and followed more than 7000 high-risk participants in a 3-year longitudinal study to evaluate whether or not tomato consumption had any effect on hypertension. Tomatoes were evaluated because they are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, pantothenic acid, niacin, and phenolic compounds. Tomatoes are also the highest source of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant with 10 times greater antioxidant capabilities than vitamin E. At the end of the study, the authors determined that consuming 110 g of tomatoes per day, the equivalent of one large tomato, resulted in a 36% reduction in the risk of hypertension. The authors relate this significant drop in hypertension to the fact that lycopene inhibits the angiotensin-converting enzyme thus blocking the production of angiotensin II, a vasoconstrictor that increases blood pressure. Lycopene also indirectly increases nitric oxide generation in our blood vessels, and nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator that can lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide is also found in high amounts in beets, so consuming tomatoes and beets could be a one-two punch that leads to significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. This is especially true if done in conjunction with a regular exercise routine involving isometric contractions.
Murcia-Lesmes D, et al. Association between tomato consumption and blood pressure in an older population at high cardiovascular risk: observational analysis of PREDIMED trial. European J Preventive Cardiology. 2023 Nov 24:zwad363.
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