Eating fruits and vegetables is the cornerstone of a healthy diet, and the results of a new study offer some insight into why that is. Researchers from Finland found that a chemical commonly found in tomatoes can significantly lower the risk of stroke.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, measured the blood levels of the chemical lycopene in more than 1,000 men at the beginning of the trials. Then, researchers split the group in half depending on the lycopene levels and tracked their health over the course of 12 years. By the end of the study, more than twice as many participants in the low-level group suffered a stroke.
"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," said study author Dr. Jouni Karppi.
Researchers believe lycopene offers benefits because the antioxidant can reduce inflammation and lower the risk of blood clots. Senior care providers should take note of the findings and consider adding foods like tomatoes, red peppers and watermelon to their meal preparation schedule.