This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
If you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes, then you’re going to be excited to learn about this study.
Research finds that the tomato may dramatically slash the risk of stroke. In a study at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, scientists discovered that tomato consumption reduced the likelihood of stroke by as much as 59 percent.
Based on the results of the present research, together with that from prior research, author Jouni Karppi asserted that if people followed the recommendation of eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, it would lead to a “major reduction” in strokes worldwide. “This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke,” he said.
The key factor responsible for this effect is the powerful antioxidant lycopene, the chemical that imparts the bright red color, which is also present in peppers and watermelon. Lycopene reduces inflammation and prevents blood clotting, both of which play a critical role in stroke.
Published in the journal Neurology, the study followed more than 1,000 men for 12 years and found that those with the highest blood levels of lycopene had a 55 percent lower likelihood of suffering a stroke. Within the group of 259 men having the highest lycopene levels, 11 had a stroke; while within the group of 258 men having the lowest lycopene levels, 25 had a stroke.
Furthermore, the protective effect of lycopene on stroke was even greater when the researchers only counted strokes caused by blood clots, ruling out those caused by hemorrhages. Men with the highest lycopene levels had a 59 percent reduced risk of stroke compared to men with the lowest levels.
Dr. Clare Walton, from the Stroke Association, believes the results are promising but advises people to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables rather than focusing strictly on tomatoes, as all these foods contain healthful nutrients. In response to the study, she has called for further research to explore the suggested protective effect of lycopene on stroke.