Posted on Nov 05, 2012, 6 a.m.
Lycopene, an antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes their bright color, reduces the risk of stroke by up to 55%.
A naturally occurring carotenoid compound that lends tomatoes their red color, lycopene has been identified by a number of previous studies to possess antioxidant capacities. Jouni Karppi, from the University of Eastern Finland (Finland), and colleagues studied 1,031 Finnish men, ages 46 to 65 years. Researchers tested the level of lycopene in the subjects’ blood at the start of the study, and followed them for an average of 12 years. During that time, 67 men had a stroke. The participants with the highest amounts of lycopene in their blood were 55% less likely to have a stroke than people with the lowest amounts of lycopene in their blood. When researchers looked at just strokes due to blood clots, the results were even stronger. Those with the highest levels of lycopene were 59% less likely to have a stroke, as compared to those with the lowest levels. No associations for blood levels of the antioxidants alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol or retinol, with risk of stroke, were found. The study authors conclude that: “This prospective study shows that high serum concentrations of lycopene, as a marker of intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products, decrease the risk of any stroke and ischemic stroke in men.”
Jouni Karppi, Jari A. Laukkanen, Juhani Sivenius, Kimmo Ronkainen,Sudhir Kurl. “Serum lycopene decreases the risk of stroke in men: A population-based follow-up study.” Neurology, October 9, 2012; 79:1540-1547.