New Research About Lycopene: Significant Reductions In Systolic Blood Pressure

About lycopene and tomatoesAn estimated 67 million American adults now suffer from high blood pressure, known formally as hypertension and that is 1 in every 3 American adults. Hypertension remains one of the most important preventable contributors to disease and death. New studies about lycopene though have shown that it may be an effective supplement in lowering systolic blood pressure.

The US CDC has estimated that there were more than 348,000 American deaths in 2009 that included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. Hypertension is now the most common condition treated by American doctors and the American Heart Assn. has warned that hypertension can lead to kidney damage, peripheral artery disease, atherosclerosis, erectile dysfunction, vision loss, memory loss, and other ailments.

There is now welcome news for high blood pressure patients: a new Chinese meta-analysis by Xinli Li from the Medical College of Soochow University (China) and Jiuhong Xu from the First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University (China) of six studies has found that lycopene supplement significantly reduced systolic blood pressure (SBP) by about 5 mmHg. A 2003 study has found that lowering blood pressure by 5 mmHg diastolic reduces the risk of stroke by an estimated 34% and ischaemic heart disease by 21%.

The study authors also found that previous studies about lycopene had suggested that a lycopene supplement could decrease blood pressure, but some of the results were conflicting.

However, the subgroup analysis results of the new study showed that a higher dosage of lycopene supplement of at least 12 milligrams a day could lower SBP more significantly, especially for those study participants with baseline systolic blood pressure or SBP greater than 120 mmHg, or Asians, but that it had no statistical effect on diastolic blood pressure (DBP).

Systolic blood pressure (SBP) is the top number in a blood pressure reading and it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is the bottom number and it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle is relaxed between heartbeats.

People suffering from high blood pressure should therefore eat more tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce and related tomato products as they are the major source of lycopene compounds. Lycopene, part of the carotenoid family, is the pigment principally responsible for the characteristic deep-red color of tomatoes, red oranges, pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots, and guava.

Lycopene is not merely a pigment but is also a powerful free radical-fighting antioxidant and free radicals are those damaging molecules that float around in the body disrupting cells and promoting disease. Lycopene, an antioxidant, could destroy free radicals so they do not attach to the cells in the body and weaken the body’s immune system.

Many experts believe that lycopene is protective against cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and previous scientific studies about lycopene have shown that it helps to prevent cancers of prostate, stomach and lung. There is also some evidence that cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, oral cavity, esophagus, breast, and cervix can be reduced with increased lycopene intake.

About lycopene and blood pressureNew American guidelines, just published online on December 18, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has raised the threshold for treating those OVER age 60, and they recommend that doctors do NOT prescribe medications until blood pressure levels reach 150/90 mmHg instead of the previous recommendation of 140/90 mmHg that was issued 10 years ago.

The authors of the new guidelines emphasized that they were not changing the definition of high blood pressure but are recognizing that randomized clinical trials data do not show that using blood pressure drugs to decrease systolic blood pressure from 150 to 140 have provided any health benefit.

About Lycopene and the Cardionomic Response

One of the key responses of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress ResponseSM complex, is the cardionomic response. It involves the bloods vessels, the organs of the heart and the lungs in reaction to stress. Chronic stress may lead to hypertension so it is important that the body’s natural defences, the NEM’s complex is regulating levels of stress. When the cardionomic response is deregulated or mismanaged it can lead to high blood pressure, heart palpations, breathlessness and cardiac arrhythmia. Advanced symptoms can present as atrial fibrillation. When the body experiences stress that it can no longer handle, the cardionomic circuit is put into overdrive which puts the biological system in a constant overactive state that doesn’t allow for the body to rest and recover itself. The body is influenced by stress to be in an everlasting fight or flight mode, which may well harm the functioning of the heart.

Source: Published online 2013 September 18 in the journal “Nutrients”.

About lycopene and tomatoes
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