This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Millions of Americans take a daily dose of aspirin to thin the blood in hopes of reducing their risk of a heart attack or stroke. But is it possible that tomato extract could produce a similar benefit?
The Reason Some People Need Daily Aspirin
When platelets in the blood clump together, they form a blood clot, which can produce a heart attack or stroke if the clot occludes a blood vessel in the heart or the brain. Aspirin has antiplatelet properties, which means it helps prevent the platelets from binding together, an action that is considered a blood thinning effect. For this reason, the drug is commonly prescribed for people with cardiovascular disease to prevent a second heart attack. However, certain patients, particularly the elderly, don’t tolerate aspirin well.
While a blood clot can form in anyone, certain people are at greater risk. These include individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity, as well as the elderly or those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Because of these risk factors, many otherwise healthy people take a low dose of aspirin regularly to prevent such an event.
According to a report published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, the side effects and risks of the drug outweigh the benefits for those who have never had a heart attack. Serious problems associated with aspirin use include bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and brain, along with kidney failure and ulcers.
The Alternative Solution
Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a proprietary lycopene-free tomato extract “may be appropriate for use as a dietary antiplatelet.” In the double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, researchers compared the effect of aspirin with a tomato extract product called Fruitflow. A control group took a placebo. The participants took one of the three options for two periods of seven days with a 14-day washout break.
Normal platelet plugs form within 50 to 100 seconds. The platelet plugs formed within 100 to 150 seconds with Fruitflow and within 300 to 600 seconds with aspirin.
Although the Fruitflow antiplatelet effect was gentler than aspirin, the research team considered it sufficient to reduce the risk of blood clots for patients at low risk of cardiovascular disease such as diabetics and people with atherosclerosis. The harsher antiplatelet action of aspirin causes adverse reactions, so the Fruitflow action struck the right balance. It produced the benefit without any side effects.
Side Benefits of Tomato Extract
Aside from preventing blood clots, tomato extract can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research found that a tomato extract called Cardiomato lowered LDL, or bad cholesterol, in as little as two weeks. Research published in the American Heart Journal discovered a tomato extract known as Lyc-O-Mato decreased diastolic blood pressure by 10 points and systolic blood pressure by 4 points after eight weeks. An investigation conducted by Tuffs and Boston University linked a high intake of lycopene, one of the compounds in tomatoes, to a 30 percent reduction in coronary artery disease and cardiovascular disease.