Israeli scientists see red – tomato pigment lowers blood pressure

Prof. Esther Paran: The importance is that for the first time we have something natural with the possibility of reducing the risk of stroke and acute coronary events.It used to be said that an apple a day kept the doctor …

Prof. Esther Paran: The importance is that for the first time we have something natural with the possibility of reducing the risk of stroke and acute coronary events.It used to be said that an apple a day kept the doctor away. Now, new research in Israel shows that a red tomato is effective in keeping away heart disease.

Professor Ester Paran, chief of the Hypertension Unit at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, has led a group of medical researchers in discovering that lycopene, the natural red pigment in tomatoes, lowers blood pressure in hypertense patients. Besides tomatoes, lycopene is also found in red peppers and papayas.

“This is the first time a natural substance has been proven both scientifically and clinically to effectively reduce hypertension.” Paran told ISRAEL21c. “The importance is that for the first time we have something natural with the possibility of reducing the risk of stroke and acute coronary events.”

Paran said the connection was made by chance. “Soroka researchers had already found that lycopene was an effective anti-oxidant. It reduces fatty acid oxidation and works as an anti-atherosclorosis. As soon as we understood that, it wasn’t difficult to wonder what effect it would have on hypertension.”

Researchers at Soroka led by Paran carried out a study on 30 Grade One hypertensive patients ranging from 40 to 65 years of age who had never taken drugs for their condition. At first they underwent a two-week series of physical tests in order to establish a baseline diagnosis. They were then given a daily dose of identical placebos for the first four weeks of the study followed by a 250 mg daily dose of lycophene in the form of Lyc-O-Mato capsules for the eight weeks of treatment, and then again four weeks of placebo.

The researchers found a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure among the group, and Diastolic blood pressure was lowered. Beneficial effects on blood lipids, lipoproteins and oxidative stress markers were also noted in the study. The results which were presented at the annual meeting of The American Journal of Hypertension in San Francisco, clearly indicated that dosages of the tomato extract can treat hypertension which causes heart disease and stroke.

The Lyc-o-mato capsules used in the study to administer the lycopene was developed jointly by LycoRed Natural Products Industries and the Soroka Medical Center. Lyc-O-mato is available as a dietary supplement in health food and vitamin shops all over the United States, according to LycoRed Industries marketing agent Orly Porat.

The processing of the specific strain of tomatoes begins in specially designed production lines located close to the tomato growing fields in northern Israel. However, the extract is conducted in a plant located in Beersheva.

Porat said that Lyc-o-mato is currently in the final stages of approval with the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. “It is already registered with the relevant authorities and being sold in most European countries,” she said.

Dr. Fischer Pharmaceuticals has reached an agreement with the LycoRed Industries and Soroka Hospital to manufacture and distribute the tomato oil capsules in Israel under the brandname Hypersafe. They will be available in pharmacies as a dietary supplement but a physician?s supervision is recommended.

Porat said that while the tomato extract has been clinically proven to support prostate and skin health, the company is waiting for the conclusion of Professor Paran?s research before adding reducing hypertension to the list of claims. But she is confident that this will take place.

Paran noted that most people given the choice prefer to taken something that is natural and organic rather than chemical. “There is a global interest in discovering how natural substances can help fight disease. This discovery justifies further research and development. There are no side effects,” she said, “and this has major importance for vascular health worldwide.”