Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tomato Seed Extract Thins Blood

Could millions of people trade in their daily dose of aspirin for tomato extract? On Monday, the European Commission, the European Union’s legal body, confirmed that the extract, patented as Fruitflow, contributes to healthy blood flow, and allowed manufacturers to use such claims in advertising. This is the first time such a health claim has been authorized by the Commission.

The allowance follows rigorous clinical trials out of Britain that suggest that foods and drinks fortified with Fruitflow have the same blood-thinning benefits as aspirin -- minus the harmful side effects, like gastric distress.

In 1999, while studying the particulars of the Mediterranean diet, Professor Asim Dutta-Roy, then at Aberdeen, Scotland’s Rowett Institute, found that a natural ingredient in the gel around tomato seeds promoted heart health, according to The Daily Mail. Dutta-Roy’s research showed that the tomato ingredient helped smooth platelets and prevent blood clots.

Blood clots form when platelets, usually smooth, produce tiny threads called fibrin, which is due to inflammation, according to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. They then adhere to one another, forming clots that block arteries leading to the heart. These clots can cause stroke or heart attack. Those at risk for such illness -- including men over 50, people with heart disease or a history of heart attacks, or those in poor health from smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, stress or high cholesterol levels -- often take aspirin for its blood-thinning effects. Aspirin therapy can also reduce the severity of a heart attack. However, aspirin increases the occurrence of gastric ulcers, abdominal bleeding and bleeding in the brain during a stroke.

Fruitflow, a ripe tomato extract that comes in syrup form, has not been shown to have any such negative effects. “To date, no side effects have been demonstrated during the development of Fruitflow,” Dutta-Roy told The Daily Mail. Instead, 10 studies -- two of which were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition -- reported that three grams of Fruitflow were effective just three hours after consumption, making platelets smoother while leaving the rest of the blood able to clot normally in the case of injury. Regular tomato juice is subjected to multiple processing methods that degrade the gel ingredient, rendering it far less effective than its concentrated form. Plain tomatoes are also less effective because the body must slowly digest all parts of the fruit.

Fruitflow is now used in Sirco Fruit Juice, a brand only available in Britain. Its manufacturers hope to introduce the colorless, tasteless, fat- and protein-free syrup to other foods like yogurt and margarine, and to sell it in tablet and capsule forms.


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