If you are a fan of tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit, then you’re enjoying multiple health benefits of lycopene.
Lycopene is the pigment in fruits and vegetables that make them red in color. This red pigment is part of the carotenoid family, which includes beta-carotene and lutein.
Lycopene is a very powerful antioxidant or free radical scavenger. And can provide the following benefits.
Antioxidant Health Benefits of Lycopene
As I’ve shared in previous articles, free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from another molecule to stabilize themselves. This action creates a new free radical that then repeats this process. It finally stops when the last free radical steals an electron from a cell wall. This results in inflammation.
Antioxidants are your natural defense against this process.
Antioxidants are molecules that give away one of their outer electrons, which then stabilizes the free radical. The remarkable property of an antioxidant is that it does not become a free radical. It remains stable with or without the electron it gives away.
This means that antioxidants like lycopene can protect you from cellular damage. And significantly reduce the potential for inflammation. This makes the following health benefits of lycopene possible:
Protection Against Cancer – In observational studies, high intakes of carotenoids help to reduce the risk for lung and prostate cancer from 32 to 50 percent.
In one 23 year study of 46,000 men, those “who consumed at least two servings of lycopene-rich tomato sauce per week where 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate less than one serving” per month.
Protection Against Heart Disease and Stroke – There are multiple studies in this area that show a diet rich in lycopene helps to prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol from being oxidized while helping the “good” HDL cholesterol to increase.
In several 10 year studies the following statistics were noted:
17 – 26% lower risk of heart disease
31% lower risk of stroke
39% lower risk of dying prematurely
Protection Against Sunburn
Unprotected skin to UV exposure from the sun usually results in sunburn. This can increase the chances of skin cancer. Lycopene appears to offer protection from this type of damage.
There have been multiple studies in this area. One 12 week study showed the those who had a daily intake of 8 – 16 mg of lycopene, either from food or supplements, reduced skin redness from UV exposure by 40 to 50 percent.
Additional research in the health benefits of lycopene also show that it can provide the following benefits:
Protection from toxins from metals, pesticides, drugs, environmental and natural
May prevent or delay the formation of cataracts
May reduce neuropathic pain
Provide protection to brain cells to prevent memory loss and age-related cognitive diseases
Helps to strengthen bones
As you can see there are multiple health benefits of lycopene. While there is no standard dose for this natural ingredient, most of the literature indicates that 8 to 21 mg per day provides benefits.
If you decide to use food as your source for this powerful antioxidant, then the following will provide you with the highest concentrations:
Tomato puree at 21.8 mg
Guava at 5.2 mg
Watermelon at 4.5 mg
Fresh tomatoes at 3.0 mg
Canned tomatoes at 2.7 mg
Papaya at 1.8 mg
Pink grapefruit at 1.1 mg
Now like any natural supplement you should always check with your pharmacist to make sure that it will not interfere with any medications you’re taking.
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