If you eat plenty of tomatoes your risk of having a stroke will probably be lower, scientists from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio revealed in the October 9th issue of Neurology. The authors added that lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, appears to have the stroke-prevention benefits.

Several studies have been carried out on tomatoes and many have found that they do have significant health benefits. In 2011, scientists from the National Center for Food Safety & Technology, said that eating more tomatoes may protect from developing cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases.

The researchers found that individuals with the highest blood concentrations of lycopene had a 55% lower risk of developing a stroke, compared to those with the lowest concentrations.

Study author Jouni Karppi PhD and team set out to determine what impact lycopene blood levels might have on stroke risk. They recruited 1,031 Finnish men aged between 46 and 65 years. Their lycopene blood concentrations were tested when the study began, and then periodically for an average of 12 years.

Over the 12-year period, sixty-seven of the men suffered a stroke.

Among the 258 men with the lowest lycopene blood concentrations, 25 had a stroke, while among the 259 with the highest concentrations 11 had a stroke.

The link between high lycopene blood levels and lower stroke risk was even stronger when the scientists focused just on strokes due to blood clots (ischemic strokes). The men with the highest lycopene blood leves had a 59% lower risk of ischemic stroke compared to those with the lowest levels.

Karppi said:

“This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke. The results support the recommendation that people get more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which would likely lead to a major reduction in the number of strokes worldwide, according to previous research.”

Retinol, alpha-tocopherol, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, also antioxidants, had no impact on stroke risk, the researchers noted.

Lycopene is a red carotenoid pigment which is found mainly in tomatoes that gives the fruit its color. Lycopene can also be found in some other fruits, such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, pink guava, papaya, and apricot.

Lycopene is an antioxidant. Many say that it promotes a healthy heart and reduces the risk of developing cancer. In 2011, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago said that lycopene could help prevent prostate cancer, especially in African American men.

Japanese scientists found that tomatoes contain a nutrient which could tackle the onset of vascular diseases.

Lycopene powder
Lycopene is the red pigment that colors tomatoes

Written by Christian Nordqvist