Chinese research indicates lycopene can help lower systolic blood pressure in people with hypertension. In a meta-analysis of six intervention trials, researchers at the Medical College of Soochow University in Suzhou, China, examined the effects of lycopene supplements and lycopene-rich diets on diastolic and systolic blood pressure in hypertensive, pre-hypertensive and healthy subjects. Four of the trials used Lyc-O-Mato tomato extract capsules as test interventions; the other two used lycopene-containing diets. Two studies involved hypertensive subjects and one featured pre-hypertensive subjects. The remaining three studies involved healthy adults, with one of them limited to middle-aged males as subjects. In all trials selected for analysis, subjects were advised to maintain their usual dietary and exercise habits, and no other dietary supplements were allowed. These precautions gave the study authors a high level of confidence that any effects on blood pressure observed could be attributed to lycopene intake.
In five of the six trials analyzed, lycopene was associated with a decrease in systolic blood pressure, but had no statistically significant effect on diastolic blood pressure. Subgroup analysis indicated that lycopene lowered systolic blood pressure in hypertensive and pre-hypertensive individuals, but had no effect on subjects with normal blood pressure. In addition, higher doses of lycopene appeared to be more effective in lowering systolic blood pressure than lower doses. The study authors speculate that “the role of lycopene in lowering systolic blood pressure might be attributed to its role as an antioxidant and free radical quencher, which could inhibit oxidative stress, indirectly stimulate production of nitric oxide in the endothelium, and improve vascular function.”
Xinli L, Jiuhong X. Lyopene Supplement and Blood Pressure: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Intervention Trials. Nutrients. 2013 Sept 18; 5 (9): 3696-712. doi:10.3390/nu5093696.