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Tomato Juice Reduces
Clotting in Diabetics
posted September 07, 2004
For people with type 2 diabetes,
tomato juice may help stave off the heart troubles that often complicate the
Researchers have found that drinking tomato juice for three weeks had a
blood-thinning effect in people with the disease. The juice reduced "platelet
aggregation" -- the blood's ability to clot.
If corroborated by larger studies, the finding may one day also help
"individuals with increased clotting tendency such as smokers, long-distance air
travelers (deep vein thrombosis), etcetera," said Manohar L. Garg, one of the
authors of the letter detailing the results. Garg is an associate professor of
nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
"When platelets aggregate, they form the plug that clots the vessels," explained
Dr. Stuart Weiss, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York
University School of Medicine. "In diabetes patients, platelets are more
sticky." Platelets are responsible for the blood's ability to clot which, in the
case of an injury, is a good thing. Clotting can go too far, however, and cause
strokes, heart attacks and other life-threatening problems.
As a result of this excessive "stickiness," for instance, people with type 2
diabetes have an increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular problems,
such as heart attack and stroke. Anti-clotting medications have been shown to
reduce this risk.
"In diabetes, there are a lot of pro-inflammatory markers that contribute to
increasing platelet aggregation, so if there's something we can do that can
reverse or limit that, that would be a very positive thing," Weiss added.
Consumption of tomato products has been shown to reduce the incidence of various
heart ailments, so the researchers behind the research letter decided to test
the hypothesis in people with type 2 diabetes.
For the study, they recruited 14 men and six women aged 43 to 82 years old with
type 2 diabetes but no prior history of clotting problems. None was taking
aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other medications that might
influence clotting. The participants were randomly assigned to drink 250
milliliters of tomato juice or a placebo -- a tomato-flavored beverage -- every
day for three weeks. All were instructed to maintain their normal diet.
Blood samples were collected at the beginning and at the end of the study, then
analyzed. Platelet aggregation turned out to be significantly lower at the end
of the trial for the group drinking tomato juice. There was no significant
difference in platelet aggregation in the placebo group.
It's not clear why the juice had this effect, Garg said. Knowing why could be
instrumental in helping to decide if tomato juice needs to be part of a dietary
plan for those with type 2 diabetes.
"Mechanisms of how tomato juice inhibits platelet aggregation need to be
delineated prior to issuing practical recommendations," said Garg. "A substance
named P3 has been isolated from the yellow, jelly-like fluid around the seeds of
the tomato... P3 has been shown to possess anti-aggregatory effects."
For now, a little tomato juice may be a fine thing for diabetics, but don't
"There's some sugar in tomato juice but it's not particularly large," Weiss
said. "Depending on your blood glucose control, you don't necessarily want to
have a lot. It's also acidic so your stomach can get a little unhappy with large
In time, Weiss predicted, "we'll find that more and more vegetables and more and
more foods have things in them that keep us healthy."
Source: Diabetes In Control.com: The
finding appears in a research letter in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of the
American Medical Association.
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