Multiple clinical studies suggest that the regular consumption of tomatoes may decrease the risk for stroke. What’s less evident is why the reduced risk occurs. So even though we’re not exactly sure why, as a leading provider of senior home care in Lincoln, we thought we’d share what we’ve found about the topic. It never hurts to learn additional ways to improve health during one’s golden years!
Those who believe that tomatoes decrease stroke risk attribute the positive correlation to lycopene, the substance that give tomatoes their bright red color. What exactly is lycopene? It is an antioxidant, which studies show can help prevent and repair the damage that can occur in cells when they absorb oxygen from the blood and convert it into energy. It can also reduce inflammation, reduce cholesterol, improve immune function and prevent blood from clotting, all factors which can dramatically reduce the risk of stroke.
One study in particular measured the lycopene levels in 1,000 men and found that study participants with the highest lycopene levels were around 55% less likely to experience a stroke than those with other levels. While this is a staggering statistic, it shows that people with higher levels of lycopene have fewer strokes, not that eating tomatoes reduces the risk of stroke. That being said, eating lycopene-packed tomatoes surely can’t hurt!
Doctors and nutritionists recommend getting at least 10,000 micrograms of lycopene per day from food. Although this sounds like an unattainable amount, it is actually easier than you may think. A single tablespoon of ketchup offers about 2,5000 micrograms of lycopene while other byproducts such as tomato puree and juice top the charts at over 20,000 micrograms! Other foods such as grapefruits, watermelons, apricots and papayas are also packed with the same antioxidant, allowing seniors to vary the foods in their diet. Looking for tasty ways to incorporate lycopene rich foods into your diet? Home Care Assistance caregivers have extensive culinary training, specific to the needs of older adults, and can provide recipes, assistance and teach you how to prepare nutritious meals from the comfort of your own home!
And the benefits don’t stop there. Other studies suggest that lycopene also helps lower the risk for developing cancer, particularly prostate cancer. In fact, evidence from these studies was strong enough for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a claim that eating up to one cup of tomatoes or tomato sauce might reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
At the end of the day, the jury is out on whether tomatoes really do decrease the risk of stroke, however the evidence is strong enough for us to encourage our clients to incorporate tomatoes into their diet, and of course, to follow healthy eating practices. For more information about stroke prevention or home care for stroke survivors, contact Home Care Assistance of Lincoln today at 866-454-8346.