In the past, I've told you about the powerful heart and prostate protection tomatoes offer. Tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes, are rich in the nutrient lycopene. This nutrient has considerable research on its ability to protect your heart and prostate. But new research takes its protective benefits even further. Now we know this nutrient can help protect you from having a stroke.
Lycopene is a bright red chemical, so it's no surprise we find it in foods like tomatoes, red peppers, and watermelons. The researchers in this latest study said they also found loads of lycopene in the bloodstream of men who were the least likely to have a stroke. While strokes are an area of concern for both men and women, men are even more likely to die or develop serious complications from a stroke than women are. So this is great news for men.
In order to find out just how powerful lycopene is, the researchers tracked levels of the chemical in the blood of over a thousand high-risk men for a period of 12 years. At the beginning of the study, the researchers split the men into four groups based on lycopene levels. By the end of the 12 years, 25 of the 258 in the lowest-level group had suffered a stroke. But only 11 of the 259 men in the highest-level group had. In fact, the researchers determined that a lycopene-rich diet slashes stroke risk by a whopping 55%!
The researchers also checked the men's blood levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and retinol. But they didn't find any correlation between blood levels of these antioxidants and stroke frequency. Lycopene, however, did have a strong link.
While this study focused on men, other studies show this nutrient works great for women as well.
So make sure you include plenty of lycopene-rich foods in your diet. Processed tomatoes can be a great source, since cooking tomatoes seems to increase lycopene levels. But if hot weather has you craving something cool, you can have a slice of refreshing watermelon to gain similar benefits.
If you don't think you're getting enough lycopene from food, there's a great product you can buy at any health food store. The name of it is Lyc-O-Mato. This product has a ton of research behind it. Other lycopene supplements will likely work as well. Regardless of how you choose to get your lycopene, make sure you're consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to enjoy all the health benefits they have to offer!
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.