Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension, a risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Tomato carotenoids such as lycopene and the colorless carotenoids phytoene and phytofluene induce the antioxidant defense mechanism. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study aimed to find effective doses of Tomato Nutrient Complex (TNC) to maintain normal blood pressure in untreated hypertensive individuals. The effect of TNC treatment (5, 15 and 30 mg lycopene) was compared with 15 mg of synthetic lycopene and a placebo over eight weeks. Results indicate that only TNC treatment standardized for 15 or 30 mg of lycopene was associated with significant reductions in mean systolic blood pressure (SBP). Treatment with the lower dose standardized for 5 mg of lycopene or treatment with 15 mg of synthetic lycopene as a standalone had no significant effect. To test carotenoid bioavailability, volunteers were treated for four weeks with TNC providing 2, 5 or 15 mg lycopene. The increase in blood levels of lycopene, phytoene, and phytofluene was dose dependent. Results suggest that only carotenoid levels achieved by the TNC dose of 15 mg lycopene or higher correlate to a beneficial effect on SBP in hypertensive subjects while lower doses and lycopene alone do not.
Keywords: bioavailability; carotenoids; hypertension; lycopene; phytoene; phytofluene; tomato extract.