It's time to stop criticizing guys who like to put ketchup on their food. A new study shows it's not a bad idea, nor is eating a plate of spaghetti with a tomato-based sauce.
Research done at Eastern Finland University indicates that, for men only, a high intake of lycopene from tomatoes can reduce stroke risk by 55 percent or more.The study included more than 1,000 men between the ages of 46 and 65 who were given blood tests for lycopene levels, then tested again in 12 years.
During that time, 65 men in the study had a stroke, but among the 259 men with the highest levels of lycopene, only 11 suffered a stroke. The findings were published in a recent issue of Neurology.
Study leaders, quoted by Tufts University, say lycopene is the most effective killer of the oxygen free radicals that damage blood vessels. It also reduces inflammation and bad cholesterol, prevents blood clots and boosts immune function.
Lycopene is fat-soluble, so it's better absorbed with a little fat, such as olive oil in a pasta sauce or salad dressing. Cooking increases the body's ability to absorb it. Doctors say even cutting and chopping can boost the amount your body absorbs from tomatoes. The more colorful a tomato is, the more lycopene it contains.
Mayo Clinic studies show lycopene also correlates with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. Stroke is caused by a clot blocking blood flow to the brain or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain.