Written by Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS. Study shows that daily supplementation with 25 mg of lycopene was effective in reducing LDL cholesterol by about 10%. Lycopene was also superior to placebo in lowering systolic blood pressure.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are “major risk factors” for cardiovascular disease and stroke (1, 2) which cause nearly 38% of all deaths in the United States each year (3) and cost our healthcare system $403 billion (4) and $43 billion (5) each year. The American Heart Association’s recommendations are (no higher than) 200 mg/dL for total cholesterol levels while classifying” high cholesterol” as at least 240 mg/dL. “Optimal” HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are at least 60 mg/dL and no higher than 100 mg/DL, respectively (6).
Now a new study (7) has found that lycopene may help keep both cholesterol and blood pressure in healthy ranges. In the study, researchers identified 12 studies lasting at least 2 weeks in duration which involved supplementing with lycopene to help with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. The review found at least 25 mg per day of lycopene (obtained through both diet and supplementation) to elicit healthful effects, helping lower total cholesterol levels by an average of 7.55 mg/dL (p = 0.02). A 2003 study showed an average 18.5 mg/dL decrease (9% decrease, 202 to 183.5 mg/dL) with up to 35 mg per day (8).
For LDL cholesterol, the average decrease was 10.35 mg/dL (p = 0.0003). Lycopene given in doses at least 25 mg per day also helped decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average of 5.6 mm Hg (p = 0.04) with a 2009 study showing a 13.6 mm Hg (9% decrease – 145.8 to 132.2 mm Hg) decrease (9). Studies looking at lycopene doses 25 mg or less per day did not produce statistically significant results.
Unfortunately, the researchers did not provide data on blood levels before and after lycopene supplementation in the overall analysis so no percentage decreases could be calculated. Nevertheless, they concluded that “lycopene taken in doses [at least] 25 mg daily is effective in reducing LDL cholesterol by about 10%” while also finding “lycopene to be superior to placebo in lowering systolic blood pressure.”
Source: “Protective effect of lycopene on serum cholesterol and blood pressure: Meta-analyses of intervention trials” in the Maturitas. Posted April 12th, 2011.
- Schaefer EJ. Lipoproteins, nutrition, and heart disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;75:191–212.
- Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2002;106: 2747–57.
- Heart disease and stroke statistics—2005 update. American Heart Association website.
- “Cardiovascular Disease Cost” posted on – the American Heart Association website.
- “Stroke Statistics” posted on the University Hospital Newark, New Jersey website.
- “What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean” – posted on the American Heart Association website.
- Ried K. Protective effect of lycopene on serum cholesterol and blood pressure: Meta-analyses of intervention trials. Maturitas 2011; 68: 299-310
- Hadley CW, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ. The consumption of processed tomato products enhances plasma lycopene concentrations in association with a reduced lipoprotein sensitivity to oxidative damage. J Nutr 2003;133(3):727–32.
- Paran E, Novack V, Engelhard YN, Hazan-Halevy I. The effects of natural antioxidants from tomato extract in treated but uncontrolled hypertensive patients. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther 2009;23(2):145–51.