Lycopene Exhibits Heart Benefit in Men

October 15, 2012

Finnish researchers looked at stroke risk and blood levels of tomato nutrients in a Finnish population.

Lycopene intake lowered stroke risk in a Finnish cohort of over 1000 men, according to a new study published in the October issue of the journal Urology.

Lycopene is a red carotenoid pigment found in tomato, watermelon, and other red plant foods. Previously published studies support a link between this nutrient and heart health, but the full scope of research offers mixed results. Published research has also linked lycopene intake to potential improvements in eye health, skin health, and prostate health.

Researchers in Finland followed Finnish men, ages 46 to 65, for a median of 12 years while periodically measuring their blood levels for nutrients found in tomatoes (retinol, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and alpha-tocopherol) and checking for incidence of stroke. Overall, the researchers identified 67 strokes. After adjusting for history of stroke, cholesterol levels, and other potential cofounders, men in the highest quartile of lycopene concentration exhibited a 59% and 55% lower risk of ischemic stroke and any stroke respectively, compared to men in the lowest quartile of lycopene concentration. Risk of stroke was not found to be related to any of the other assessed nutrients.

The study on tomato nutrition and heart health was funded by a grant from Lapland Central Hospital in Rovaniemi, Finland.