Tomatoes cut stroke risk: What about other fruits and vegetables?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Tomatoes found to lower stroke risk

It’s always good to get news about the medicinal qualities of our favorite food. According to an October 8, 2012 news release from The American Academy of Neurology, eating tomatoes and tomato based products might lower your chances of having a stroke.

It's all about lycopene

The reason, according to the researchers, is because tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene.

The study, conducted in Finland, measured levels of lycopene among 1,031 men in Finland between the ages of 46 and 65.

Researchers tested levels of the antioxidant at the start of the study and followed the men an average of 12 level of lycopene in their blood was tested at the start of the study and they were followed for an average of 12 -years. During the study, 67 men had a stroke; 25 of 258 men suffering stroke had the lowest levels of lycopene.

Just 11 out of 259 men with the highest levels of the antioxidant had a stroke, leading the researchers to the conclusion that eating fruits and vegetables is good medicine for cardiovascular health.

The most common form of stroke comes from blood clots that deprive the brain of oxygen leading to stroke.


Men with higher levels of the tomato chemical in the bloodstream were 65% less likely to have a stroke.

Past studies have linked tomatoes to cardiovascular health, but there hasn’t been a clear understanding of why the red fruit might promote health. The current study suggests it’s the lycopene that offer the health benefits. Studies have also shown lycopene supplements don’t confer the same benefits as eating tomatoes or other fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.

Lycopene is an antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables their color and is a pigment known as a carotenoid. Other foods besides tomatoes that are high in lycopene include pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava. It’s not just tomatoes that can help fight vascular and other diseases, including skin cancer.

What about other fruits and vegetables?
Cherries can help quell arthritis and gout pain, grapes are heart healthy and can keep blood pressure lower and broccoli is linked to lower rates of colorectal cancer. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can also make your skin glow. Carotenoids in tomatoes might also protect the eyes and help prevent skin cancer.

A study published last year by University of Adelaide researchers also showed tomatoes can help lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol that is believed to contribute to plaque and clot formation in the blood vessels; contributing to heart attack, stroke and other forms of vascular disease. Evidence is mounting that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is just ‘good medicine’ for preventing a variety of diseases. More than five servings a day is recommended by the study authors to cut stroke risk 'worldwide'.

American Academy of Neurology
October 8, 2012

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