Healthy Aging

Research: If You Want to Avoid Strokes, Think Red


This could be a good day for Pizza Express: A new study out of Finland shows that lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables, can help prevent strokes if it’s consumed in high enough quantities.

The study, which is being published today in the journal Neurology, followed more than 1,000 men for an average of 12 years; the men were between ages 42 and 61 when the study started in the ‘90s. Those who had the highest rate of lycopene in their blood toward the end of the study were 55 percent less likely to suffer a stroke and 59% less likely to have the type of stroke caused by a blood clot—the most common type.

Where can you get your megadose of lycopene? Think red. Marinara Sauce has very high levels; a cup of ready-to-serve contains more than 31,000 micrograms. A raw tomato will give you about 3,165 micrograms and a slice of pizza has 2,074. Watermelon is a good source, too.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal online, the researchers’ main goal was figure out whether there was a link between vitamins A and E and stroke rates. In fact, there was no link. Instead, they discovered a clear correlation between low levels of lycopene and blood clots. Previous studies have suggested a possible link between high levels of lycopene and reduced risk of prostate and other types of cancer.

From the Wall Street Journal, a look at the stroke-fighting properties of your next meal, by micrograms of lycopene:

  • Sauce, pasta, spaghetti/marinara, ready-to-serve (1 cup): 31,663 micrograms
  • Tomato juice, canned, with salt added (1 cup):21,960 micrograms
  • Soup, tomato, canned, prepared with equal volume 2% milk (1 cup): 13,047 micrograms
  • Watermelon, raw (1 cup): 6,889 micrograms
  • Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, average (1 tomato):3,165 micrograms
  • Papayas, raw (1 cup): 2,559 micrograms
  • Ketchup (1 tbsp.): 2,146 micrograms
  • Fast food pizza, pepperoni, regular crust (1 slice): 2,074 micrograms
  • Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, (half grapefruit):1,745 micrograms
  • Tomatoes, sun-dried (1 piece): 918 micrograms
  • Mangos, raw (1 cup): 5 micrograms

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database

What’s it to be? Tomato soup? Watermelon slices? Or good-for-you, bad-for-you pizza? Share your lycopene plan in the comments box below.

Photo: © B2t |


3 responses to “Research: If You Want to Avoid Strokes, Think Red

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