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Tomato-based antioxidant linked to lower stroke risk

Tuesday October 9, 2012
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Eating tomatoes and tomato-based foods is associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to a study.

The study found that people with the highest levels of serum lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, were 55% less likely to have a stroke than people with the lowest amounts.

The study involved 1,031 Finnish men ages 46 to 65. Serum lycopene levels were tested at the start of the study, with the subjects followed for an average of 12 years. During that time, 67 men had a stroke.

In the quartile of men with the lowest levels of lycopene, 25 of 258 had a stroke. In the quartile with the highest levels, 11 of 259 men had a stroke. After adjustment for various risk factors, men with the highest levels of lycopene had a 55% reduced risk of stroke compared with those with the lowest levels.

When researchers looked at only ischemic strokes, the results were even stronger. Those with the highest levels of lycopene were 59% less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.

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

"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," added Karppi, of the University of Eastern Finland.

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

The study appears in the Oct. 9 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study abstract is available at www.neurology.org/content/79/15/1540.


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