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Health Benefits of Lycopene and its Sources

Health Benefits of Lycopene and its Sources
By Barbara Ross

TP 201908 NUTRITION 08Lycopene is essentially a plant nutrient; more specifically a phytonutrient that has a load of health benefits and anti-oxidant properties. It is found in fruits and vegetables that are pink or red, as it is the pigment that provides the colour. For the same reason, it is found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelons, etc.


However, it should be noted that not all red fruits and vegetables may contain this pigment. In the U.S though, it is even registered as a food colouring agent. It is also included in a number of processed foods, like spaghetti sauce.


Nevertheless, it is highly recommended as an excellent source of anti-oxidants along with many other benefits. Now, let鈥檚 get into the detailed benefits.



TP 201908 NUTRITION 02Powerful anti-oxidant properties


The first and most important attribute of lycopene is that it is an anti-oxidant belonging to the carotenoid family. This means that they are one of the nearly 600 plant pigments that provide colour to the plants and function as anti-oxidants.


Now, anti-oxidants basically protect our body from damage caused by certain free radicals. When these radicals increase in amount in our body, they are likely to create oxidative stress, which could lead to serious diseases like cancer, Alzheimer鈥檚, diabetes and other heart ailments. Several researches have proved that lycopene can help keep the level of such radicals in control and, hence, prevent those conditions.


Additionally, lycopene can also help protect our body from pesticides and monosodium glutamate, as well (MSG). Dichlorvos and Atrazine are two very harmful pesticides that can harm our body in many ways. And MSG in foods can cause issues like headaches, nausea, numbness and even neurological issues. Lycopene can help prevent these harmful effects to a great extent.





TP 201908 NUTRITION 03Helps prevent cancer


Lycopene also helps in preventing certain types of cancer, because of its strong anti-oxidant properties. According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Portsmouth, lycopene has the ability to slow down the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer, as it interrupts the signal pathways and in turn hinders the growth of tumours.


Another study conducted with over 46,000 men also showed a significant link between the intake of lycopene and prostate cancer. It showed that men, who consumed tomato sauce at least twice in a week, had a 30% less chance of developing prostate cancer than those, who consumed tomato sauce less than one time in a month.


Similarly, lycopene is also known to hinder the growth of a kind of kidney tumour, called renal cell carcinoma. And it is also sometimes used in the treatment of HPV infection, which is one of the major causes of uterine cancer.





TP 201908 NUTRITION 04Good for the heart and eyes


As mentioned before, lycopene is very effective in lowering the risk of heart diseases. This is because it reduces the harmful effects of free radicals. It also helps in reducing 鈥渂ad cholesterol鈥 or LDL cholesterol and increasing 鈥済ood cholesterol鈥 or HDL cholesterol.


Lycopene is also known to be one of the strongest eye vitamins that you can consume. Several studies even suggest that it can prevent or slow down the progress of cataract in many cases.





TP 201908 NUTRITION 05Sources of lycopene


In general lycopene can be found in some fruits and vegetables that are pink or red in colour. The largest amount is contained in sun-dried tomatoes, which provide about 45.9 mg per 100 grams. Tomato sauce can also provide a comparatively high amount of lycopene at about 21.8 mg per 100 grams. Raw and fresh tomatoes on the other hand also contain about 3 mg per 100 grams.


Other than that, watermelons and guavas also contain the nutrient. They each provide around 4 to 5 mg per 100 grams. Ripe papaya and pink grapefruit are other sources that contain around 1 to 2 mg of lycopene per 100 grams.





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