KUOPIO, Finland, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Eating tomatoes and tomato-based foods -- high in the antioxidant lycopene -- is associated with a lower risk of stroke, researchers in Finland found.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, found people with the highest amounts of lycopene in their blood were 55 percent less likely than people with the lowest amounts to have a stroke.
Study author Jouni Karppi of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio said the study involved 1,031 men in Finland between the ages of 46-65. The level of lycopene in the blood of participants was tested at the start of the study and they were tracked for an average of 12 years.
During the study period, 67 men had a stroke, Karppi said.
Among the men with the lowest levels of lycopene, 25 of 258 had a stroke. Among those with the highest levels of lycopene, 11 of 259 had a stroke, the study found.
However, when the researchers looked at just strokes due to blood clots, they found those with the highest levels of lycopene were 59 percent less likely than those with the lowest levels to have a stroke.
"This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke," Karppi said 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."