Eating tomatoes and tomato-based foods is associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to new research.

The study found that people with the highest amounts of lycopene -- prevalent in tomatoes -- in their blood were 55% less likely to have a stroke than those with lower amounts.

The study followed 1,031 men in Finland between the ages of 46 and 65, over the course of 12 years.

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Among the men with the lowest levels of lycopene, 25 of 258 men had a stroke. Among those with the highest levels, 11 of 259 men had a stroke.

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

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"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 study also looked at blood levels of the antioxidants alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and retinol, but found no association between the blood levels and risk of stroke.


The research is published in Neurology.