Eat tomatoes, avoid a stroke?

by: Katie Brind”Amour

(NaturalNews) According to Finnish researchers, a diet rich in carotenoids such as lycopene and beta-carotene may significantly lower the risk of stroke for men. Higher concentrations of carotenoids in the blood were associated with as much as a 55-59 percent decrease in the likelihood of having a stroke during the 12-year study of over 1,000 Finnish men aged 46-65.

Fruit and vegetable consumption and carotenoid concentration in the blood has gradually been gaining a positive reputation in maintaining cardiovascular health. Lycopene (commonly found in tomatoes and watermelon) and beta-carotene (which can be found in carrots, pumpkin, and spinach) are two of the chief carotenoids believed to help in the prevention of stroke.

The magic of carotenoids

Carotenoids have numerous preventive effects. They have been renowned for their ability to help prevent lung and prostate cancer, and their antioxidant properties may be responsible for preventing the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which is a crucial contributor to heart disease and stroke.

These benefits may arise as much from the general diet and lifestyle that accompany the consumption of large amounts of carotenoid-containing vegetables. Because of this, scientists are unable to draw a causal connection between carotenoids and stroke. The research is promising; however, and researchers and public health advocates alike are eager to point to results of studies like this to encourage a well-rounded, veggie-heavy diet.

The highest concentrations of carotenoids can be found in fruits and vegetables with red, orange, and yellow skins or flesh. Heavy hitters include tomato paste, sweet potatoes, carrot juice, papayas, citrus fruits, and leafy greens. Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and eat carotenoid-containing foods with a source of fat to help your body absorb the nutrients properly.

Supplements may also be effective, although fewer studies have demonstrated a strong connection between carotenoid pills and improved cardiovascular health. Most physicians recognize the value of these amazing antioxidants but also recommend a varied, nutritious diet and regular physical activity as the best way to promote cardiovascular health.

In addition, although the study did not extend to women or young individuals, researchers expect that a diet high in carotenoids and fruits and vegetables will hold similar preventive effects for the general population.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22494809
http://www.healthline.com
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu

About the author:
Katie Brind”Amour is a Certified Health Education Specialist and passionate health and wellness freelance writer. She enjoys cooking, yoga, gardening, searching for the perfect wine and chocolate combination, and spending time with friends. She has a Masters in Biology and is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Services Management and Policy. 

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