This fall, I told you about my journey to become independent of blood pressure medications altogether. I started the journey, appropriately enough, last Independence Day, on July 4th. There were two factors that gave me the confidence to make this important change…
For one, as you probably know, there are some serious safety concerns about many of the most common types of blood pressure drugs, including some of the supposedly safer generic drugs. These concerns run the gamut—from possible contamination with cancer-causing chemicals to increases in lung cancer risk.
The second factor involved research into natural ways to reduce blood pressure…which has improved significantly in recent years. In fact, we now know that dietary supplementation of key antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds produce the same physiological effects as blood pressure drugs—all without the side effects.
Case in point: A new study from Ben-Gurion University in Israel found that one powerful nutrient in tomato marinara sauce can significantly reduce both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) readings in just eight weeks!
Let’s jump right in…
Men and women reduce blood pressure naturally in 8 weeks
For this study, researchers enlisted 61 participants, ages 36 to 60. At the study’s outset, they had systolic blood pressure readings between 130 and 140 mmHg.
Researchers randomly divided the participants into four groups:
- The first group took a tomato nutrient complex supplement that contained 5 mg of the carotenoid lycopene (as well as the rest of the tomato phytonutrients) for eight weeks.
- The second group took the same supplement, but with 15 mg of lycopene.
- The third group took the same supplement, but with 30 mg of lycopene.
- The fourth group took a placebo.
After eight weeks, the groups that took supplements with 15 and 30 mg of lycopene significantly reduced their blood pressure. Specifically, they lowered their systolic readings by an impressive 10 points and diastolic readings by five points. No changes were seen with the 5 mg group or with the placebo.
These findings are important in two ways…
First, they show that you can significantly reduce your blood pressure in just eight weeks by taking a lycopene supplement. (In my view, you can probably achieve similar results by eating a lot more tomatoes, as I’ll explain in a moment.)
Second, the findings illustrate the importance of using the right dose of lycopene. Typically, mainstream studies of vitamins and other nutrients use doses that are way too low to confer any real benefit. So, when the results don’t show any positive benefits, researchers just shrug their shoulders and say, well, I guess it doesn’t work after all.
But, in most cases, nutritional supplements need to be taken at doses that are much higher than the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs). Only then, as this well-designed study illustrates, do we see the positive outcomes.
Whether it’s ignorance, narrow-mindedness, or even intentional low-balling of doses, conducting a scientific study using inadequate dosing leads to misleading results and incorrect conclusions.
So, now, let’s move on and talk about how you can get a big enough dose of lycopene to garner these impressive benefits…
Focus on eating more whole foods that contain lycopene
It’s true that the participants in this study achieved their impressive reductions in blood pressure by taking a dietary supplement with lycopene.
But most lycopene supplements on the market contain much lower doses than what was used in this study.
So, even if you do take lycopene as a supplement, you should still look for ways to add more lycopene-rich foods into your daily diet. And, of course, tomatoes are one of the best sources…
In fact, one medium, ripe tomato can contain up to 10 mg of lycopene. (The redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains.) So, slice a fresh tomato and combine it with some mozzarella cheese, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper. It makes for a fast, easy, nutrient-dense caprese salad.
For a more concentrated dose of lycopene, you can make your own tomato sauce. The cooking process removes the water, leaving behind the nutrients—like a natural nutritional supplement. In fact, just half a cup of cooked tomato sauce contains almost 20 mg of lycopene. (Remember, this same amount of lycopene daily helped men and women in the study reduce their blood pressure in just eight weeks! And it’s more than you get in a typical supplement.)
Of course, tomato paste is even more dense than regular jars of tomatoes. In fact, remember that old Contadina jingle from the 1960s—“how did they get those eight great tomatoes in that itty bitty can?” It really is true!
Here are some other great ways to incorporate lycopene into your daily diet:
- 1 cup tomato juice = 20 mg lycopene
- 1 cup watermelon = 7 mg lycopene
- ¼ cup salsa (with cooked tomatoes) = 7 mg lycopene
- 2 tablespoons ketchup = 5.1 mg lycopene
- 1 cup pink or red grapefruit = 3.6 mg lycopene
Of course, I helped discover the role of lycopene in food nutrient composition and in human nutrition and metabolism in the mid-1980s, when I worked together with researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.
Our study participants were college students from the nearby University of Maryland in College Park. And when we took their blood measurements, we found they all had sky-high lycopene levels.
Eventually, we realized these high levels stemmed from what we called their “frat boy” diet. It turns out, they ate lots of foods with tomato sauce—including pizza, pasta, and meatball subs—and ketchup, which they poured on hamburgers and fries.
Just beware…most of the store-bought, pre-made spaghetti sauce is also loaded with sugar and preservatives. (The same holds true for most store-bought ketchup. But if you look hard enough, you can now find organic versions without added sugar.)
In addition, many brands of canned tomatoes contain traces of Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to line the cans. So, I suggest only using tomatoes that come in “tetrapaks” or glass jars.
So, this week, as you think ahead to what you’ll serve over the Christmas holiday, consider making a big, beautiful batch of homemade spaghetti with red marinara sauce (topped with fresh basil and other herbs to make it red and green). And just freeze whatever you don’t use immediately for your enjoyment in 2020. Your blood pressure will thank you for it!
P.S. I can’t leave you today without mentioning this fact: Men who eat lots of lycopene also significantly lower their risk of developing prostate cancer. And lycopene has also been found to reduce the expression of genes related to the progression of prostate cancer. So what are you waiting for? Start adding this crucial nutrient to your diet today! (Of course, you can learn everything you need to know about how to NATURALLY conquer prostate cancer, banish an enlarged prostate, and maximize your manhood in my comprehensive, science-backed Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Perfect Prostate Health. To learn more about this innovative learning protocol, or to sign up today, click here now!
P.P.S. This Sunday, December 8th at 3:00 PM (EST), I’ll be hosting my first ever live Conquer Inflammation Summit! During the event, you’ll learn everything you need to know about living a life free from chronic inflammation—and powering down disease in the body. This event will be live and completely uncensored! But I must warn you…space is limited. Click here to reserve your spot now!
“Effect of Tomato Nutrient Complex on Blood Pressure: A Double Blind, Randomized Dose–Response Study.” Nutrients, 2019. 1(5), 950. doi.org/10.3390/nu11050950
“Nutrient to Know: Lycopene.” Food Network, 11/13/19. (foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2009/07/nutrient-to-know-lycopene)
“Dietary Lycopene, Angiogenesis, and Prostate Cancer: A Prospective Study in the Prostate-Specific Antigen Era,” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Feb; 106(2): djt430. doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djt430
“Tomato paste alters NF-κB and cancer-related mRNA expression in prostate cancer cells, xenografts, and xenograft microenvironment,” Nutr Cancer 015;67(2):305-15. doi.org/10.1080/01635581.2015.990575