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Lycopene in Tomatoes Reduces Risk of Stroke

Update Date: Oct 09, 2012 08:39 AM EDT

A new study suggests that eating a diet rich in tomatoes could be helpful in reducing the risk of a stroke.

According to researchers from Finland, their research has revealed that a chemical found in the red fruit is helpful in reducing the risk of stroke in men half.

The chemical, lycopene, is responsible for giving tomato its color and has already been linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer. The compound apparently prevents blood clotting, which is the primary cause of a stroke.

For the study the researchers involved 1,031 men from Finland aged between 46 and 65, and tested the levels of lycopene in their blood. The participants of the study were followed 12 years later and it was found that 67 of the men had a stroke, 25 of them with the lowest levels of lycopene and 11 with the highest.

With the findings of the study, the researchers could establish that when the cause of a stroke was clot and not a bleed on the brain, the effect of the compound was seen to be stronger. The men with highest levels of the compound in their blood were found to be 59 per cent less likely to have a stroke.

"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," study author Jouni Karppi, PhD, of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

The study, which also checked for the levels of antioxidants alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and retinol, in the blood of the participants, found no association between them and the risk of stroke.

 "We all know that eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg is good for our health. This study suggests that an antioxidant which is found in foods such as tomatoes, red peppers and water melons could help to lower our stroke risk. However, this research should not deter people from eating other types of fruit and vegetables as they all have health benefits and remain an important part of a staple diet. More research is needed to help us understand why the particular antioxidant found in vegetables such as tomatoes could help keep our stroke risk down," Dr Clare Walton, Research Communications Officer at the Stroke Association said according to the report.

The findings were published in the journal Neurology.

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