Lycopene is the natural substance (part of the carotenoid group) responsible for the deep red color in many foods, most particularly in tomatoes. However, this fact is not what lycopene is most famous for. Most people are familiar with lycopene because of of the many health benefits it provides such as a cancer fighting agent and a powerful antioxidant.
It was only in the late part of the twentieth century that the investigation of lycopene's health benefits started. However, for such a short period of time, scientists and medical researchers have established the significant role it plays in human health. You can find lycopene in certain vegetables and fruits. Once you consume the foods with lycopene, your body will use it as an antioxidant. However, for your body to benefit from it, you need to eat enough of the foods containing lycopene. The fruits and vegetables that are great sources of this substance can easily be added to your daily health regimen. The following are some foods that contain high concentration of lycopene:
- Pink Grapefruits
- Pink Guava
How Lycopene Functions
Lycopene is allegedly a more effective antioxidant than other of its carotenoid cousins which include beta-carotene. Its powerful antioxidant actions are effective in maintaining the strength, thickness and fluidity of cell membranes. Cell membranes are the guardians of cells. They are responsible for screening what goes in and out of cells. They allow good nutrients in and remove cellular junk and prevent toxins from entering the cells. Strong healthy cell membranes are vital in the prevention of many diseases.
Lycopene is well known specifically to help prevent many forms of cancer as well as the prevention and treatments of many illnesses and diseases such as:
- Heart diseases-Lycopene stops LDL cholesterol from being oxidized by free radicals and in turn cannot be deposited in the plaques which narrows and hardens the arteries
- Infertility-Research suggests that lycopene may help in the treatment of infertility. Results from tests showed that lycopene can boost sperm concentration in men
- Helps prevent diabetes
- Prevents age-related macular degeneration and cataracts
- Prevents the aging of skin and keeps it younger looking
- Acts as an internal sunscreen and protects your skin from sunburn
- Lycopene is also been known to help prevent osteoporosis
Dietary Supplement and Side Effects
Lycopene is available as a dietary supplement in mixed formulations or by itself. It is typically available in soft-gels form and is oil based. There are currently no reported side effects from eating foods that are rich in lycopene or taking lycopene dietary supplements. To be on the safe side though, you should always follow the standard dosage prescribed. Tomato extract is also another form of lycopene supplement that is becoming popular and wide-selling.
Lycopene is a substance that has many health benefits for you and your body. Most health agencies encourage individuals to increase their intake of food that has high levels of carotenoids, lycopene included.