Decreasing "platelet activation" lowers the risk of "thrombosis" -- or the forming of dangerous blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. It's the reason many doctors to this day still recommend aspirin despite treatment with the drug increasing cardiac failure, including heart attacks and bleeding episodes. New research show tomato extracts can thin blood as effectively or better than aspirin without the side effects.
The research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded the lycopene-free extract "may be appropriate for use as a dietary antiplatelet."
Scientists have said that tomato juice and cooked tomatoes can have the same benefits as statins for patients battling against high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure.
Lead researcher Dr. Niamh O'Kennedy working at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland told us the research showed tomato extracts could be used as alternatives to drugs like aspirin for blood thinning. This was especially the case for groups like the elderly who frequently were intolerant of drugs like aspirin typically prescribed for that purpose.
"Platelet function is very tricky," Dr O'Kennedy stated. "If you knock out the platelets it can have a bad effect on the body. And many treatments knock out too much. Some people respond strongly so bad they bleed."
The Problem With Aspirin
If you've never had a heart attack (or stroke), the risks of taking a daily low-dose aspirin outweigh the benefits, according to a U.K. report published in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.
She added: "Results like this show that people and the medical world should start looking at dietary interventions like these that can have a big impact," said Dr. M. Sue Kirkman, the vice president of clinical affairs for the American Diabetes Association. She stated that due to recent studies suggesting that the benefit of aspirin is not very large, and because it can also have risks (intestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke), there is not enough evidence to justify its routine consumption.
Not only has aspirin failed to reduce the prevalence of heart attacks and strokes, but the list of its adverse effects seems to grow greater the more that it is studied. Chief among these is gastrointestinal bleeding, as aspirin interferes with your platelets--the blood cells that allow your blood to clot. According to one article, long-term low-dose aspirin therapy may double your risk for a gastrointestinal bleed.
Regular aspirin use also destroys the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, increasing your risk for duodenal ulcers, H. Pylori infection, Crohn's disease, diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and intestinal perforations. More than 10 percent of patients taking low-dose aspirin develop gastric ulcers. The damage to your duodenum--the highest part of your intestine into which your stomach contents pass--can result in duodenal ulcers, which are prone to bleeding. Even low-dose aspirin is proven to cause problems.
Dr. Brian O'Neil, Cardiologist and Pediatric Surgeon said alternatives such as tomato and black current extracts are encouraging if they can curb the side effects associated with aspirin. "We used aspirin indiscriminately for a long time as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory but we're finding more discrepancies and risks when alternatives are proving more effective without the side effects associated."
Part of Dr. O'Kennedy's research is with Fruitflow, a tomato extract and European nutraceutical clinically shown to promote healthy blood flow by supporting healthy platelets. It is the only product of its kind and one of the first dietary ingredients to receive an authorized health benefit statement from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Platelet plugs usually form within 50-100 seconds. The researchers found platelet plugs were formed within 100-150 seconds among Fruitflow users, compared to 300-600 seconds for aspirin users.
Because of this more gentle effect, Dr Kennedy and her team suggested Fruitflow could be a suitable dietary intervention to control platelet hyperactivity which increases with age, the onset of type II diabetes, mellitus, atherosclerosis and other conditions in subjects with low cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
The dosage in the double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over experiment among 47 healthy 45-75 year old Scottish adults varied with single doses of 65 mg and up to a maximum matching the EU-approved level of 150 mg of Fruitflow per day. The control group took 75 mg of aspirin per day an some took placebo.
Various platelet measurements were taken with the above-mentioned moderate effect measured -- something the researchers noted was "reversible" in the short-term in the tomato extract, as opposed to a more permanent thinning for aspirin.
The two groups took Fruitflow in capsule form, aspirin or a placebo for two periods of seven days with a wash-out period of 14 days in between.
Professor Asim Duttaroy of Provexis, who made the breakthrough discovery of the active anti-clotting ingredients in the tomato, said:
"Healthy blood flow is fundamental to maintaining a healthy circulation, and avoiding dangerous blood clots, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
"Within the blood there are platelets, released from bone marrow, which can change function from being smooth to spiky and sticky.
"In a smooth state they circulate easily but if they become spiky they can stick to the blood vessels and send out signals for other platelets to join them to form a clot. While this is obviously vital in an injury, it's dangerous if it happens inside a blood vessel and any resulting clot interrupts healthy blood flow.
Inappropriate diet is known to predispose people to "acute thrombotic events" -- heart attacks and strokes -- the leading cause of death in the Western world.
A regular intake of blood thinning foods such as tomatoes against the causes of blood clots -- an "anti-thrombotic diet" -- offers an effective method of prevention of much of the nutriceuticals in the future will focus on their extracts.
Article sources: bmj.com; springer.com; mercola.com; cnn.com