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15 October 2012
Tomatoes serve no end of purposes: they are essential for a bruschetta, add something wonderful to a gaspacho, bring a dash of colour to your kitchen decor, can be grown almost anywhere, and make for an entertaining evening discussing what makes a fruit a fruit (tomatoes are a fruit, should you be wondering). The other thing about tomatoes is that they are a healthy option and now a new study has suggested that eating tomatoes on a regular basis will lower your risk of stroke.
Tomatoes are native to South America and the first domesticated tomatoes were probably a small yellow fruit cultivated by the Aztecs. That is why they were dubbed in Latin “pomo d\'oro” or apple of gold. Red tomatoes came later and the French (of course) translated “pomo d\'oro” into “pomme d\'amour”, apple of love! Whatever you call it colloquially tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a member of the nightshade family and is nutritionally very rich containing good amounts of vitamins C, A, and the antioxidant lycopene. It is this lycopene that has been highlighted in the latest research.
The study was done by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland who set out to find out what impact blood lycopene levels might have on risk of stroke. They gathered 1,031 men aged 46-65 and tested them periodically over a 12 year time frame.
Over the 12 years 67 of the men suffered a stroke. Comaprison of lycopene levels found that the men with the highest levels of lycopene were 59 per cent less likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke (due to a blood clot) than those with the lowest blood levels.
That would suggest that somehow the antioxidant actions of lycopene are lowering chance of clotting and stroke. If eating tomatoes every day does not appeal you can also get your lycopene form watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya, and apricots. Now there’s a “clot-busting” fruit platter you can serve your guests this summer.