Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes
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A stroke is defined by the NHS as a “serious life-threatening condition” that occurs when blood supply to the brain is cut off. The first signs of an event typically include slurred speech and lopsidedness in the face. Fortunately, the vast majority of cases are deemed avoidable, but when they occur, swift treatment is essential to survival. One food packed with the antioxidant lycopene has been shown to lower the risk of having a stroke in half.
Stroke can be broken down into two different forms, hemorrhagic and ischaemic.
The latter is the most common type, which results from a blood clot that becomes lodged inside one of the brain’s arteries.
Sometimes, however, the clot can form inside the artery because cholesterol-filled plaque has broken off.
Hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, occurs when a blood vessel becomes ruptured or bursts, causing a bleed in the brain.
READ MORE: Blood clots: The popular breakfast food that could enhance the risk of blood clotting
Fortunately, one study suggests tomatoes could stave off the condition thanks to their high concentrations of lycopene.
The 2012 study, published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that a diet high in tomatoes could significantly lower the risk of having a stroke.
The study author Jouni Karppi, of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, noted: “This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits is associated with a low risk of 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.”
The study looked at a sample of 1,031 men from Finland aged between 46 and 65.
All participants had their levels of lycopene tested at the outset of the study and were then followed for an average of 12 years.
A total of 67 study participants suffered a stroke during that period.
When assessing the participant’s levels of lycopene, researchers noted that among the 258 men with the lowest levels, 25 suffered a stroke.
Among the 259 men with the highest levels, 11 had a stroke.
When looking specifically at strokes caused by blood clots, the results changed drastically.
Those with the highest levels of lycopene were 59 percent less likely to suffer a stroke compared to those with the lowest levels.
The team concluded: “This prospective study shows that high serum concentrations of lycopene, as a marker of intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products, decrease the risk of any stroke and ischemic stroke in men.”
Blood samples were also examined for levels of antioxidants alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and retinol.
The researchers, however, found no associations between these antioxidants and the risk of stroke.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help maintain blood pressure and reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, two risk factors for stroke.
What’s more, research has shown the compound can inhibit the production of reactive oxygen species, inflammation and platelet aggregation, which reduces the chances of blood clot formation.
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