: Eating tomatoes can help reduce risk of stroke?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes and tomato-based products, may reduce the risk of stroke in men.
WHAT WE KNOW
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.¹ Genetics, lifestyle factors such as exercise and cigarette smoking, and pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are all factors that affect your risk of stroke. Diet is an important lifestyle factor to consider when discussing risk of stroke. While diets high in fats and sodium can increase your risk of stroke, diets high in fruits and vegetables may decrease your risk.
Multiple key nutrients and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables have been shown to help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Ongoing research is being conducted on the effects of antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, on prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. A recent study has shown that high blood levels of lycopene, as an indicator of tomatoes and tomato-based products in the diet, may reduce the risk of stroke.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Over 1,000 Finnish men between the ages of 46 and 65 years old were studied over a 12-year period. Researchers focused on the blood serum level of lycopene in the men and its relation to risk of stroke. The men with the highest serum concentrations of lycopene had a 59% and 55% lower risk of ischemic stroke and stroke. That was then compared to men with the lowest concentrations of lycopene who had a 95% chance for ischemic stroke and stroke. Researchers concluded that high serum concentrations of lycopene from intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products decreased the risk for stroke in men.²
Lycopene can be found in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit. Cooking actually increases the concentration of lycopene and aides in its absorption by the body, so products like tomato juice and other tomato-based products such as marinara sauce are some of the best dietary sources. Try one of the following recipes for creative and delicious ways to incorporate tomatoes, and lycopene, into your family’s diet year-round…
Fruits and vegetables are an integral part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet ensures that you receive a greater amount of vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients important to overall health. Remember, while a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential to good health, it is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. Encourage your family to find balance between diet and exercise, and strive to incorporate daily physical activity into your routine. If you are a cigarette smoker, seek help to quit. Cigarette smoking is one of the leading risk factors for stroke.
For more information on the risk factors, signs and treatments of stroke visit the American Stroke Association or contact your physician.