Researchers in Finland conducted a 12 year study involving 1,031 men.
Results showed that lycopene, a bright red antioxidant found in tomato, watermelon and red pepper, could cut the risk of stroke by 55%.
The male volunteers were split into four groups based on the levels of lycopene found in their blood prior to the study. Over the 12 years, 25 out of the 258 men with low lycopene levels had strokes, compared with only 11 of the 259 with high lycopene levels, suggesting that a higher level of lycopene could help prevent stroke.
Dr Jouni Karppi, from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, said: “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.”
Lycopene is thought to reduce inflammation and prevent blood clotting – the most common cause of stroke.
However, Dr Clare Walton from the Stroke Association has stated that the results should not deter people from eating other types of fruit and vegetables, as they all have their own health benefits and should form a staple part of a balanced diet.
The Stroke Association has called for more research into why lycopene has the effect of reducing the risk of stroke.
Incorporating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. Maintaining a healthy balance can reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. To learn more about these conditions and more, please visit our Nutrition Topics page.
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