The group at University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio found that people with higher levels of lycopene (an antioxidant highly available in tomatoes) were 55% less likely to suffer a stroke.
Lycopene is the bright red compound in tomatoes and is most available to us when fresh tomatoes are cooked or from products of tomato such as juice, ketchup, sauces, soup and salsas.
Published in the October 9th 2012 print issue of Neurology - the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology - the research followed 1031 Finnish men (aged 46-65) for 12 years, tracking the level of lycopene in their blood. During this period 67 men had strokes, with 25 of these occurring in those with the lowest levels of lycopene and only 11 occurring in those with the highest.
The research results suggest lycopene offers another protective effect, which is to reduce blood clotting. This effect alone showed a 59% stroke risk reduction.
“This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke,” said the study’s author Jouni Karppi, PhD. “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.”