High blood pressure (hypertension) is a very common disease presenting in the clinic and in many cases patients are unaware that they even have a problem with their blood pressure, discovering it only upon a general health check. High blood pressure can be a cause of headaches or stroke.
A 60 year old client discovered she had high blood pressure only after suddenly collapsing in a shopping centre. This was the first time she found out that she had high blood pressure and she was lucky as it may have been more serious. It is important to be aware of the causes and symptoms of high blood pressure so that you can take steps towards prevention as well as being able to seek treatment at the earliest stage possible.
1. Causes & Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Chinese Medicine considers there to be many causes of high blood pressure, one of the most common being due to the syndrome of “Liver Heat” in Chinese medicine diagnosis.
The usual symptoms of high blood pressure include dizziness and headaches. Those with high blood pressure due to Liver Heat may also experience the following symptoms: feeling hot, red face and eyes, very emotional or easily angered, constipation, body feels puffy and bloated, excessive dreaming, insomnia, stiff neck, tinnitus.
We suggest that while you treat high blood pressure you also address its cause and adopt an appropriate diet and lifestyle.
Tomato is one of the foods that you can eat to reduce Liver Heat, balance the Liver and help you lower your blood pressure.
2. Health Benefits of Tomato
Tomato is special in that it can be consumed as either a vegetable or fruit. In one ancient Chinese diet therapy book “Lu Chun Ben Cao”, tomato is described as sweet and sour in taste and cold in nature. This book also mentions how tomato is beneficial for the body, especially in cooling the body and clearing Liver Heat, balancing the liver and removing toxins. Due to these effects, tomato is good for the following people:
i) Those with High Blood Pressure due to Liver Heat (with the above mentioned symptoms)
ii) People who have a poor appetite or indigestion, fullness in the stomach, abdominal area or constipation. Eating tomatoes will help improve the appetite and digestion. Cooked tomato is especially good for children who have a poor appetite, I suggest trying the stir fried egg and tomato recipe below.
iii) Those who drink alcohol. Drinking tomato juice before, during or after drinking alcohol helps the Liver to metabolise the alcohol and remove the toxins from the Liver and body.
iv) Tomato is cold in nature so it is very suitable to eat during hot days and summer. Chinese medicine believes that the body and environment have a strong relationship, so in hot seasons the body will be affected by the external heat. The heat will cause the body to have a physical change and may cause the following symptoms: dry skin, thirst, dark urine, constipation, perspiration, body heat, erratic emotions or insomnia. The cooling characteristics of tomato helps to clear the summer heat and help avoid symptoms of heat-stroke. Tomato is a summer fruit and especially well suited to be eaten during the hot season.
3. Traditional Recipes
In summer in Beijing, families eat tomato nearly every day. The Chinese people use tomato traditionally to reduce heat in the body.
i) Stir Fried Egg & Tomato
This is a very popular dish in China, especially in the Summer.
2-3 tomatoes, washed & chopped to medium size pieces
2 tbsp spring onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, whisked together
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Soy sauce, to taste
1 tsp sugar (don’t add any sugar if it is unsuitable in your diet)
First, fry the eggs in olive oil on medium heat, then add the tomatoes and fry until soft (roughly 10-15 minutes).
Once cooked, you can add the spring onions, soy sauce and sugar (this enhances the flavour and reduces the sour taste of the tomatoes).
Effects of this Dish: Balance the Liver & Stomach; Increase appetite; Clear the digestive system.
ii) Tomato & Celery Juice
Juice 1 tomato & 2 celery sticks
Effects of the Juice: Clear the Heat from the body and the digestive system; Help reduce high blood pressure; Clear the Summer Heat; Reduce Liver Stress
A very good drink for the summer season!
i) Women within one month after labour are advised to avoid eating raw tomato due to its cooling effect, which can reduce circulation around the abdominal area.
ii) Those with diarrhoea should avoid tomato.
iii) If you do not know your constitution, please consult your experienced Chinese medicine health practitioner for professional advice.