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Tomatoes May Lower Risk of Stroke and Fight Prostate Cancer

Update Date: Oct 09, 2012 05:19 AM EDT

According to a new study published today October 9th in the print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene which can lower one's risk of suffering a stroke.

In a study that involved over 1,000 male participants between that ages of 46 and 65, researchers tested the lycopene levels in their blood and then followed them around for 12 years.

Throughout those years 67 men had strokes and researchers found that men with the highest levels of lycopene were 59 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those with lower levels.

The study also looked at blood levels of the antioxidants alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and retinol, but found no association between the blood levels and risk of stroke.

Lycopene is present in all red fruits and vegetables, but its concentrations are highest in tomatoes and it becomes more readily available and biologically active when it comes from processed tomatoes with a small amount of cooking oil added.

This leaves researchers to posit that tomatoes may make a suitable preventative against strokes.

"This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke," said study author Jouni Karppi, PhD, of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. "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."

Previous laboratory studies have also shown that  lycopene slow the growth of or even kill prostate cancer cells, by intercepting the cancer's ability to make the connections it needs to attach to a healthy blood supply.

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