Adding tomatoes to a balanced diet could go a long way toward reducing the risk of stroke, thanks to the natural occurrence of the antioxidant lycopene, according to an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) study.

The report, “Can Eating Tomatoes Lower the Risk of Stroke?”, was published in the Oct. 9 issue of the AAN medical journal, Neurology, and is based on a 12-year study of 1,031 men ages 46 to 65.

Results from the study showed that participants with higher levels of lycopene, a natural antioxidant found in tomatoes, lowered their chance of stroke by 55 percent.

“This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke,” said Jouni Karppi, study author from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, in a statement. “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.”

The men had their lycopene levels tested before the study began and again once it was complete. During the study 67 men had strokes. Of the 258 men with the lowest lycopene levels, 25 had a stroke. Only 11 of the 259 men with the highest amounts of lycopene in their blood had strokes.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 800,000 Americans each year succumb to cardiovascular disease or a fatal stroke.

A brain attack occurs when blood flow is blocked by a clot or when a blood vessel ruptures.

This event can have life-changing effects such as partial or full-body paralysis and damage to motor skills and speech.

Signs of stroke include drooping or numbness of the face, weakness in the arms, slurred speech or difficulties walking. Time is critical when dealing with a stroke victim and 911 should be dialed immediately if a stroke is suspected.

The use of tobacco and alcohol are behaviors that increase the chance of stroke on top of predisposing factors like family history.

Measures to prevent the number four cause of death in America include regular exercises, eating healthy foods, and avoiding obesity.


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer