Eating cooked tomatoes regularly could reduce your risk of stroke by more than half. In a Finnish study on stroke risk factors, men who had the lowest amount of lycopene in their blood suffered the most amount of strokes.
Lycopene is a super antioxidant found in tomatoes—and unlike most nutrients, you get more, not less, of it when you cook tomatoes! That means that ketchup and marinara are actually better sources of lycopene than a fresh, raw tomato (especially if they are cooked down and concentrated).
Risk of ischemic stroke, or strokes caused by blood clot, were particularly lowered. (Those are the most common types of stroke).
Do other antioxidants have the same dramatic effect of reducing stroke risk? Not so much. Although the study looked at other vitamins for their effect on stroke, only lycopene made such a notable difference. Whatever the mechanism is, it’s more than just reducing inflammation.
If you’re inspired to eat more tomatoes, pair them with cumin, a good source of turmeric, another super antioxidant that can lower your risk of cancer! Of course, if you have allergies or just an aversion to the flavor (or think pre-made sources like ketchup have way too much sugar) there’s plenty of supplements with both lycopene and turmeric!
Growing up, I was always told that our family had low stroke & cancer rates due to regular consumption of homemade pasta sauce. What food lore was passed down in your family?