Aug. 17, 2004 -- Could a daily glass of tomato juice help people with type 2 diabetes improve their cardiovascular health?
Three Australian researchers explored that possibility in a small study of 20 people and reported their findings in a research letter to The Journal of the American Medical Association.
It's well recognized that the risk of death as a result of cardiovascular disease is threefold higher for people with diabetes than those without the disease.
In the study, 14 men and six women with type 2 diabetes aged 43 to 82 were given either tomato juice or a placebo. Two participants were smokers and none of them were taking aspirin or other medications that might be considered a blood thinner such as antiplatelet medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Low-dose aspirin therapy is recommended for people with diabetes as a blood thinner and is a preventive measure also used to treat people who have had a heart attack or a stroke.
The study focused on people with type 2 diabetes because they have an increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular complications (such as strokes caused by blood clots), write the researchers, who are based at the dietetics and nutrition department of the University of Newcastle and Royal Newcastle Hospital's Diabetes Education Centre.
Half the group drank 1 cup of clarified tomato juice daily for three weeks; the rest took a tomato-flavored placebo.
That was the only dietary change the participants made.
At the end of the three weeks, the juice drinkers had a reduction in platelet clumping or aggregation, one of several steps thought to be important in the formation of blood clots that may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Platelet aggregation did not decrease in the placebo group.
The researchers didn't offer any ideas about why tomato juice may have reduced platelet aggregation. They call for larger trials to study tomato juice and cardiovascular health in people with type 2 diabetes.