What’s to Love about Tomatoes?

Photo credit: photon_deGetting your 2 plus 5 or just eating pizza again?  When it comes to stroke prevention, the story starts to get interesting.

“A diet high in fruits anad vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke”, according to Dr Jouni Karppi of the University of Eastern Finland. However, Karppi’s group particularly extols the virtues of a natural phytochemical called lycopene which is found  in generous supply in tomatoes and tomato-based products.  Their study showed that that men with the highest blood levels of lycopene halved their risk of stroke over a 12 year period.

What’s interesting about lycopene is that it is much more easily absorbed from cooked and processed tomato products than from raw.  This puts tomato-based soups, sauces and even pizza firmly on the menu.  But we’re not talking just any pizza. Try making your own, substituting whole wheat pita bread for the familiar fatty, white flour version of pizza base.  Top your creation with other good sources of lycopene including extra sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, streamed asparagus plus dried parsley and basil. Add some olive oil for better absorption.

If you prefer to stay away from pizza, lycopene is also found in high amounts in watermelon, guava, pink grapefruit, goji, persimmon and papaya.  Once again, a small amount of fat will increase the amount of lycopene your body takes in.  Try a few nuts in your fruit salad, or a tahini dressing.

Find the original research here.

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