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Tomatoes may protect against stroke

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - Stroke prevention may be found in a bottle of ketchup. A new study shows that people with the highest amounts of lycopene in their blood — which is an antioxidant found in tomatoes — were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.

"This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke," study author Dr. Jouni Karppi, a researcher in the department of medicine and public health at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, said in a press release.

Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, taking 137,000 lives each year. About 795,000 Americans will suffer a new or recurrent stroke in 2012, according to the American Stroke Association — approximately one stroke every 40 seconds.

The cardiovascular event can be caused either by a clot blocking blood flow to the brain — an ischemic stroke — or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain — a hemorrhagic stroke. Temporary blood clots may cause TIAs (transient ischemic attacks), also known as "mini strokes."

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