Inhibiting Platelet Activation with Tomato Seeds

Inhibiting Platelet Activation with Tomato Seeds
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The yellow fluid around tomato seeds appears to suppress platelet activation without affecting blood clotting. This anti-inflammatory effect may explain why eating tomato products is associated with lower cardiac mortality.

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In the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is crucial. Yes, preventing the oxidation of cholesterol may be one of the mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, hyperactivity of platelets is also critically important in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, as I’ve covered before.

In recent years, it has been shown that platelets are not only involved in the arterial clotting process, but also that they play an active role in the inflammatory process of atherosclerosis from the beginning. And that means from childhood. By the end of our teens atherosclerotic lesions are present in most people living in industrialized societies, and so suppressing the overactivity of platelets may be beneficial not only for heart disease but for cancer and allergies, and disease for which inflammation plays a major role.

The antioxidant properties of fruits and veggies are well-known. However their anti-clotting effects on platelets are less known. Preliminary studies have demonstrated the platelet activation suppressing activity of a variety of fruits and vegetables, so much so they can mess up platelet function tests. And the effects are so long-lasting, just fasting the morning of your blood test may not be sufficient.

Out of 16 different fruits tested, tomatoes came out #1. The anti-platelet activation components in tomatoes are water soluble, so you don’t have to eat them with fat, heat stable, meaning you can cook tomatoes without losing the benefits, and concentrated in the yellow fluid around the seeds, which is why tomato pomace beat out tomato juice, sauce or ketchup. Pomace is basically the seeds and the peel, which the industry throws away, and it may be the healthiest part. And the more tomato seeds the better. But this was measuring platelet activation in a petri dish. Grapefruit came in #2 here, and grapefruit juice at least didn’t appear to help when people actually drank it. Would drinking tomato juice actually help? Yes.

Platelets of patients with diabetes are characterized by intensified activation, so 20 diabetics were asked to drink a daily cup of tomato juice for three weeks —or a tomato-flavored placebo beverage and there was a significant drop in platelet activation.

Works in healthy people too. Within 3 hours of consumption, two tomatoes are good, but six tomatoes are better. And the effects were more wide-ranging than those of aspirin in that the tomatoes targeted multiple pathways of platelet activation. About 1 in 4 people are aspirin resistant, meaning aspirin doesn’t work to calm down their platelets, whereas only 3% of study subjects were found to be tomato resistant.

This finding indicates an advantage of the tomato extract’s broad antiplatelet activity profile over single-target drugs such as aspirin, and when researchers stuck tubes into people while they were eating them, they found no changes in blood clotting times, implying that supplementation with tomatoes should not result in a prolonged bleeding times, so one might get the best of both worlds, less platelet activation without the bleeding risk. But if tomatoes don’t thin our blood do they work?

Consumption of tomato products has been found to be protectively correlated with a lower incidence of acute coronary events, less development of early atherosclerosis, and lower mortality from heart disease.

If you don’t like tomatoes, kiwifruit recently beat them out in a test tube study of platelet activation. Strawberries may help too, but we have data showing kiwis may actually work in people too, and two kiwis appeared to work just as well as three kiwis. It appears to work for green-on-the-inside kiwifruit; and for yellow-on-the-inside kiwifruit. In this case, though, one a day seemed to help whereas two-a-day did not, which seems a little strange. And there haven’t been any studies to see if kiwifruit eaters actually have fewer strokes and heart attacks, so the best evidence for a dietary intervention to decrease platelet activation currently rests with tomatoes.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Chiot’s Run via Flickr.

In the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is crucial. Yes, preventing the oxidation of cholesterol may be one of the mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, hyperactivity of platelets is also critically important in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, as I’ve covered before.

In recent years, it has been shown that platelets are not only involved in the arterial clotting process, but also that they play an active role in the inflammatory process of atherosclerosis from the beginning. And that means from childhood. By the end of our teens atherosclerotic lesions are present in most people living in industrialized societies, and so suppressing the overactivity of platelets may be beneficial not only for heart disease but for cancer and allergies, and disease for which inflammation plays a major role.

The antioxidant properties of fruits and veggies are well-known. However their anti-clotting effects on platelets are less known. Preliminary studies have demonstrated the platelet activation suppressing activity of a variety of fruits and vegetables, so much so they can mess up platelet function tests. And the effects are so long-lasting, just fasting the morning of your blood test may not be sufficient.

Out of 16 different fruits tested, tomatoes came out #1. The anti-platelet activation components in tomatoes are water soluble, so you don’t have to eat them with fat, heat stable, meaning you can cook tomatoes without losing the benefits, and concentrated in the yellow fluid around the seeds, which is why tomato pomace beat out tomato juice, sauce or ketchup. Pomace is basically the seeds and the peel, which the industry throws away, and it may be the healthiest part. And the more tomato seeds the better. But this was measuring platelet activation in a petri dish. Grapefruit came in #2 here, and grapefruit juice at least didn’t appear to help when people actually drank it. Would drinking tomato juice actually help? Yes.

Platelets of patients with diabetes are characterized by intensified activation, so 20 diabetics were asked to drink a daily cup of tomato juice for three weeks —or a tomato-flavored placebo beverage and there was a significant drop in platelet activation.

Works in healthy people too. Within 3 hours of consumption, two tomatoes are good, but six tomatoes are better. And the effects were more wide-ranging than those of aspirin in that the tomatoes targeted multiple pathways of platelet activation. About 1 in 4 people are aspirin resistant, meaning aspirin doesn’t work to calm down their platelets, whereas only 3% of study subjects were found to be tomato resistant.

This finding indicates an advantage of the tomato extract’s broad antiplatelet activity profile over single-target drugs such as aspirin, and when researchers stuck tubes into people while they were eating them, they found no changes in blood clotting times, implying that supplementation with tomatoes should not result in a prolonged bleeding times, so one might get the best of both worlds, less platelet activation without the bleeding risk. But if tomatoes don’t thin our blood do they work?

Consumption of tomato products has been found to be protectively correlated with a lower incidence of acute coronary events, less development of early atherosclerosis, and lower mortality from heart disease.

If you don’t like tomatoes, kiwifruit recently beat them out in a test tube study of platelet activation. Strawberries may help too, but we have data showing kiwis may actually work in people too, and two kiwis appeared to work just as well as three kiwis. It appears to work for green-on-the-inside kiwifruit; and for yellow-on-the-inside kiwifruit. In this case, though, one a day seemed to help whereas two-a-day did not, which seems a little strange. And there haven’t been any studies to see if kiwifruit eaters actually have fewer strokes and heart attacks, so the best evidence for a dietary intervention to decrease platelet activation currently rests with tomatoes.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Chiot’s Run via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

The video that I set up the background on the role of platelet activation is Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries.

One of my favorite videos, The Tomato Effect, is actually not about tomatoes at all, but talks about the power of a diet composed entirely of plants to combat the heart disease epidemic. After all, Heart Disease Starts in Childhood.

I do have some others that really do touch on tomatoes, though:

More on kiwis here:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

35 responses to “Inhibiting Platelet Activation with Tomato Seeds

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  1. That heirloom tomato reminded me of my new favorite summer sandwich. Toasted whole grain bread with Chipotle Vegenaise and a 1/2-inch thick slice of tomato. I know added oil (Vegenaise) isn’t good, but the spice of the “mayo”, the sweetness of the tomato, and the nutty crunch of the toast made this sandwich irresistible.




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  2. Nightshade fruits (tomatoes) and veggies create inflammation in me, arthritic joint pain also. I wish it was not the case. Happens every time!

    But thanks for today’s video….. I’ll go with the kiwi and strawberry options you’ve listed.




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    1. Same for me! Surprisingly, I could eat cooked tomato soup (home made with love, I assume) without any joint pain. Nice surprise :-)! Cooking destroys the lectins, I learned afterwards. Still no night shades for me apart from a few cooked goji berries and occasionally egg plant.Raw, ripe, fresh and organic vegan is best against inflammation and for alkalizing your body :-)!




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  3. I can’t stand tomatoes but love tomato paste, buying organic in 6 oz cans. There usually is a golden fluid on top. Would that be from the tomato seeds or simply added oil colored by the tomatoes?




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  4. My Doctor recently expressed a concern with my platelet count. The normal range is between 150,000 – 400,000 platelets per micro liter. My count is currently at 131,000. It was at 237,000 as recently as 18 months ago which coincides with when I began my whole foods plant based diet including my consumption of spices which are anti oxidant in nature. From what I’ve read they also appear to have blood thinning qualities. As a result I have reduced my consumption of items like tumeric, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, oregano, ginger, garlic, onion, berries, along with a number of other spices and foods. Any opinions on this? While I like the anti oxidant properties associated with these items the blood thinning effects does have me worried.




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    1. My count was 166,000 recently and I take various herbal supplements like turmeric…garlic…and several others…also a good amount of veggies….including tomatoes and onions. Be interesting to know what count a woodland gorilla has since they graze on vegetation all day? Or the count of the avg vegetarian vs the SAD diet?

      Looks like I should stay off the 81 mg aspirin….which I’ve avoided since reading that it might lead to bleeding in the eyes.




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    2. Hi. I am a Clinical Laboratory Scientist with a specialist in Immunohematology. Fancy-schmancy words to say I spent 6 years at university to then work in a hospital lab most of my life. Of course, I can’t comment on your specific case, since I do not know enough details, etc, but I will say these two things that may be of help to you and your doctor.
      1. There are a number of reasons that the 131,000 value could possibly have been an incorrect, or even a transient, value. I suggest having your plt count repeated before sacking your healthy eating choices over one lab result.
      2. There is generally no risk of spontaneous bleeding until about 10,000 / microliter (in an otherwise healthy patient).

      If it were me (which it is not), I would continue my healthy diet with all the herbs and spices and berries you mentioned, while also having the count repeated and having a discussion with my doctor about the OTHER reasons platelet counts can rise and fall. (I’m assuming you are using those spices at culinary doses – not using them at “supplemental” doses.)




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    3. I’ve had low platelets for years, before I became a healthy-food vegan and after. They’ve gone as low as 107,000. The doctors don’t seem concerned – but it is hard for me not to be.




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    1. Dr. McDougall (vegan) actually gives reason to consider NOT taking EPA/DHA supplements. As in possible
      harm, suppression of immune system in an undesirable manner. Who knows?




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  5. Thank you very much for this post. I intend to add tomato products to my diet. They are a key component of the Greek diet even though they are native to the new world. A can of tomato paste a week could dramatically add to health. I have been making a snack with your advice with the specific goal of invoking longevity. It includes a few dark chocolate with super fruits (like Brookside or Costco), one half mushroom, some nuts (including one Brazil nut a week), one sheet nori (there’s some on Amazon), some dried golden raisins, blueberries, or other dried superfruits, (maybe also some Costco beans and or a whole grain or Kind bar) and a drink of tea or cranberry lemonade. I think this small snack, taken every day, could dramatically add to lifespan and reduce some of our most common diseases in a single simple inexpensive serving.




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  6. A comment on aspirin resistance: This may actually be very rare. The issue is the enteric coating. This prevents adequate absorption for many people and thus platelets activation is less inhibited. Why this form of aspirin is continued to be used is a mystery to me.




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    1. My understanding of the coated aspirin is to prevent leaky gut. This is where the uncoated aspirin affects the lining of the stomach such that it disturbs the connections between the cells. Hence stomach fluid leaks out. Nasty stuff.




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      1. Cute pictorial comment on food safety in your link, mouse with helmet, maybe nutritionfacts can use it in a dangers of milk video/blog ^^ :




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  7. The video relates specifically to a product now available as Fruitflow which has been scientifically proven and awarded with EFSA and GRAS certifications. It is now widely available around the world in over 37 products including Optiflow (Bricker Labs) and Swansons.

    Finally, an effective and healthy alternative to aspirin.




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  8. I’m quite confused by the contradictory information about the inflammatory vs anti-inflammatory effects of tomatoes when I look around the web. I’d appreciate Dr. Greger’s commenting in a future video about what might lead to those conflicts. Differences in how different people react to tomatoes and other foods (some indication of that some places)? Other reasons? I see from the comment that some people do find tomatoes/nightshades inflammatory. I have never noticed anything one way or the other, though of course I can’t measure my platelets by how I feel. Ideas? Thoughts? (By the way, I’m signed in but my comment isn’t being accepted except as a guest. Why do I have to sign in additional to social networks I don’t use.)




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  9. I have had chronic hives for over 5 years. I have them daily. Skin burns this very minute. The more i move toward a plant based vegan diet it seems that the nightshades are bad for me. When I ate like everyone else, there were too many foods to try to blame. I can say i am vegetarian but haven’t kicked butter and cheese. The more veg I eat the more i find that tomatoes seem to be hurting me a lot. Hives don’t show up till about 6 hours after eating something so it is hard to pin down, but I am thinking a test where I eat what i think is ok and eliminate tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers and see what happens. I burn constantly, 24/7/365.




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  10. My mom and I both have Factor V Leiden which means that our blood clots a lot easier. I’ve seen a lot of info in this video and other sources that shows a vegan diet or even just more fruits and veggies can help in other artery and vein issues like heart disease, but I wanted to know if if has the same effect on something like Factor V. My mom didn’t find out she had Factor V until she got a major blood clot. She had to go on major blood thinner and now takes aspirin. The veins in her leg are very damaged from the huge clot and as a result she has poor circulation and swelling. Would a vegan diet or even just increasing the amount of tomatoes (as mentioned in this video) or berries (mentioned in another video) help reduce her chance of developing another serious clot? I’ve also seen studies that a whole food plantbased diet will actually heal damaged veins and arteries. Would it help her veins heal themselves? I know that’s a long question but there’s not too much info on Factor V and even less on treating it with a natural, healthy diet. (Most treatments involve taking way too much blood thinner, aspirin, etc…)




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  11. Can’t you provide transcripts of the videos, for those peopel who has difficult to follow without reading? Thank you!!




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    1. Marina: Already done years ago. :-) Looks for the “transcript” button to the right of the video. After clicking the button, look for the text below the video.




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  12. My husband had a heart attack a month ago. He was given a stent, which saved his life. His cardiologist put him on a standard protocol: daily aspirin (81 mg), anti-blood clotter (Effient), Lipitor (for cholesterol), and Metoprolol (for keeping his (already low) blood pressure low).

    He’s been on a STRICT vegan diet since he came home from the hospital (We were already mostly vegan). A week later, he got a gout attack and has been limping in pain ever since. We think this came as a side effect from his meds. His doctors are not doing much other than prescribing more drugs. They’re telling him he will have to take a daily aspirin for life, even though we’re finding research linking aspirin to gout attacks, which in turn may contribute to heart disease. We’re also learning that Lipitor and Metoprolol have many awful side effects. Any suggestions? Please help. We are desperate. Thank you!




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    1. AK: I’m sorry you are both dealing with all of that. I’m not an expert, but I have some ideas for you that I hope will help you feel less desperate.

      You can find a lot of information on this site about heart disease and high blood pressure. But for someone in your situation, I really recommend getting Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die. There are chapters for both heart disease and blood pressure that will present the information in an easy-to-digest and organized way. And part 2 of the book gives you a system/plan for putting the science into practice.

      You mention that your husband has gone on a STRICT vegan diet, but the devil is in the details. A diet can be vegan and still not be healthy. So, the trick is to eat the diet that is good for the heart (and every other part of the body). Another good resource for you, complete with recipes!, is a book called: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: https://www.amazon.com/Prevent-Reverse-Heart-Disease-Nutrition-Based/dp/1583333002/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468274717&sr=1-1&keywords=prevent+and+reverse+heart+disease

      From what I have learned not only on NutritionFacts, but other sites as well, people *can* reverse heart disease (clear up blocked blood vessels) and control blood pressure. One of the studies showing this is highlighted in the following NutritionFacts video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/our-number-one-killer-can-be-stopped/ If your husband clears up blood vessels and has normal blood pressure, I can’t think of any reason he would have to take those medications. (It worries me that they put your husband on a medication to lower blood pressure when his blood pressure is already low. How can that make sense?) So, it seems to me that you need to find a physician who understands how nutrition affects these diseases and who will work with you on weaning your husband off the medications as the diet takes effect. Then all the serious problems that comes from those medications could hopefully be avoided.

      If you can not find a doctor with these very basic skills/knowledge in your area, you might consider doing phone consultations with Dr. Klaper. http://doctorklaper.com/about/ Or if you are in the area, you could go to the new PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) clinic. http://www.pcrm.org/barnard-medical-center

      I hope this helps. And I wish you both luck.




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  13. What is Dr. Greger’s opinion regarding Dr Gundry’s research about tomatoes and uncooked beans? Dr Gundry says lectin is not good for those with autoimmune disorders. What do other research articles suggest? Thanks for your thoughts.




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  14. The potential for dietary lectins to trigger autoimmune disease seems minimal, and the mechanism that protects us against this was described in a 199 article in the British medical Journal (see Freed DL, Do dietary lectins cause disease? at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115436/). There appears to be no solid evidence linking lectin-containing foods to autoimmune diseases or other chronic ailments.




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