- Press release
We all know that including more fruits and vegetables in our diets is good for our health. However, for many of the individual plants there is no conclusive science to back this up.
Take the tomato. An icon of the Mediterranean diet, popular the world over. A seriously nutritious fruit, with years of research suggesting many possible health benefits. Nonetheless, there is no emphatic evidence.
This may be about to change.
Researchers at Complutense University of Madrid (UCM, Spain) and NIZO Food Research in Ede (The Netherlands) have been collating and analysing data in a wide-reaching review of the published tomato research to date.
The resulting paper, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, concentrates on research focused on the most standardised and quantifiable end of the tomato family – tomato products, such as paste or juice – and seeks proof of one positive effect alone – the prevention of platelet aggregation, which contributes to optimised blood flow.
“The beneficial effect of fresh tomatoes or processed tomato products on platelet aggregation depends on the presence of bioactive compounds, in sufficient quantities, to produce a relevant physiological effect, when consumed as part of a normal diet. This work is focused on reviewing the developments in regard to tomato product bioactive compounds, particularly with reference to their potential biological activity with beneficial effect on the prevention of platelet aggregation.”
Platelet aggregation is a clotting of the blood, a thickening, which is known to play a deadly part in the lead up to many health events – such as heart attack, stroke and deep vein thrombosis.
Currently, one of the handful of new health claims to have been awarded by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is for a positive anti-platelet aggregation effect. The product is a supplement called Water-soluble tomato concentrate (WSTC), which is made from tomato paste alone.
A supplement made from tomato paste has the scientific proof, but not the tomato paste itself.
“The most relevant studies found show that all bioactive compounds found in Water-soluble tomato concentrate are in tomato fruit and other tomato products, and there is enough evidence of their beneficial effects. According to EFSA requirements, further intervention studies (human clinical trials) using valid markers should be performed in order to demonstrate the beneficial effects of tomato products as consumer products (paste, puree, sauce or juice) on platelet aggregation. Our PubMed review results support the development of promising nutritional strategies involving tomatoes and tomato products to tackle cardiovascular disease as antiplatelet aggregation”.
The publication was supported with a limited grant from the Tomato Foundation and draws on some of the recent data from the Foundation’s health claim project.
Successful outcomes from any intervention studies could provide a crucial breakthrough in the hunt for a natural, dietary alternative to pharmacological daily therapy as a way of thinning the blood.
They could also, finally, prove that tomatoes are good for us.
Montaña Cámara, Virginia Fernández-Ruiz, María-Cortes Sánchez-Mata, Laura Domínguez Díaz, Alwine Kardinaal & Machteld van Lieshout (2019). Evidence of antiplatelet aggregation effects from the consumption of tomato products, according to EFSA health claim requirements, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1577215