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Tomato juice – could 1 cup per day keep heart disease at bay?

tomato juice

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Researchers have recently investigated the potential benefits of tomato juice on cardiovascular risk. Although the team reported reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the results are not entirely convincing.

Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for the most deaths in the United States. People can modify certain risk factors, such as smoking, but it is impossible to modify others, such as age. So, as the population ages, finding ways of reducing cardiovascular risk is of growing importance.

Nutrition is vital for good health, and heart health is no exception. Now, one new study has asked whether regular consumption of unsalted tomato juice might be a cost-effective intervention.

Read more: Heart Disease Risk Eased by Healthy Habits

The study authors explain how the tomato “contains a variety of bioactive compounds, such as carotenoid, vitamin A, calcium, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, which may play a role in maintaining physical and psychological health, including the prevention of [cardiovascular disease].”

Another Look at Tomato Juice

Their previous results prompted the scientists to widen their net and assess whether tomato juice might also benefit other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and lipid and glucose metabolism, over a longer period.

This time, they also wanted to measure the benefits of tomato juice in people of different ages and sexes. The scientists published their findings in the journal Food Science & Nutrition.

According to its authors, “the current study is the first to investigate the effects of tomato or tomato product intake on cardiovascular disease risk markers over the course of a year and over a wide age range.”

Read more: ‘Healthy obesity’ – not so healthy for the heart

At this point, it is important to note that the authors received a research grant from the Kikkoman Corporation to conduct both this study and the previous one.

The Kikkoman Corporation manufacture a range of soy sauces but also hold the exclusive marketing rights to the Del Monte brand in Asia, where the company “manufactures and markets tomato-based goods.”

1 Cup Each Day

In total, the scientists recruited 184 men and 297 women as participants. For 1 year, all participants had access to as much unsalted tomato juice as they wanted; the average was around 215 milliliters per day per person, which is slightly less than 1 cup.

At the beginning and end of the study, the scientists measured a range of factors, including blood pressure, levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, and fasting plasma glucose.

They analyzed data from the 94 participants who had hypertension or pre-hypertension (elevated blood pressure not high enough for the person to receive a diagnosis of hypertension).

Read more: Snake venom is a cure for heart disease patients: No aspirin, no side-effects!

Their blood pressure was significantly lower after 1 year of consuming tomato juice. Average systolic blood pressure dropped from 141.2 to 137.0 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Also, average diastolic blood pressure dropped from 83.3 to 80.9 mm Hg.

According to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) guidelines, this change in blood pressure would move the average participant from hypertension stage 2 down to hypertension stage 1. These effects were similar for both men and women and people of all ages.

That being said, these are not the first studies to examine whether tomato products could reduce cardiovascular risk. For instance, as one meta-analysis of 21 studies concluded:

“The available evidence on the effects of tomato products [on cardiovascular] risk factors supports the view that increasing the intake of these has positive effects on blood lipids, blood pressure, and endothelial function.”

Read more: Can blueberries protect heart health?

The cardiovascular benefits of tomato juice are gathering evidence. However, the new study is not powerful enough to prompt a change in drinking habits; we may need to wait a little longer before we can draw reliable conclusions