Try tomatoes to top strokes

By Shayna Brouker • Published: January 30th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Bring on the marinara, sundried tomatoes and caprese salad: The latest research shows the almighty tomato packs a punch when it comes to preventing strokes, thanks to an antioxidant called lycopene (LIE-co-peen), commonly found in tomatoes.

A study published in the journal Neurology found that men with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood had a 55 percent reduced risk of having a stroke. The benefit was even better for strokes caused by blood clots in the brain, called ischemic strokes. Men with the highest lycopene levels were 59 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke.

This is not the first study to suggest almighty lycopene can combat cancer. Other studies have found cooked tomatoes pack more of a punch than raw tomatoes or tomato juice. But Italy’s favorite vegetable isn’t the only food with a lot of lycopene. It can also be found in pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, another powerful stroke-slaying mineral is magnesium. The study found that every additional 100 milligrams of magnesium a person consumed each day reduced their risk for ischemic stroke by 9 percent. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke in older people. Magnesium can be found in whole grain products, like oatmeal, beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables.

Even your location can make a difference; one study found that people who lived in areas with less than average sun exposure had a 60 percent increased stroke risk.

But there’s no better stroke prevention measure than simply eating well, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking. Eat a diet rich with fruits and vegetables, adding tomatoes in the mix regularly, and you’re off to a healthy stroke-preventing start.