Benefits of lycopene: Powerful red carotenoid with strong antioxidant properties

There are several benefits of lycopene which can be very helpful since it won't be convert into vitamin A. It is responsible for red color of some fruits and vegetables.

It is fat soluble nutrient which requires fats, in order for it to be absorbed from the digestive tract. This makes it work very well with fish oil supplements. It seems to produce stronger effect, when combined with other carotenoids, especially lutein.

Also, it is one of rare phytonutrients whose bioavailability, actually increase, when you cook tomatoes thereby "opening the door" to more potent lycopene benefits.

LYCOPENE SOURCES

Besides tomatoes which is considered the main source of this great carotenoid, many fruits and vegetables offer benefits of lycopene, too. Ketchup isn't that bad either since it is concentrated tomato extract.

Other rich food sources:

  • Watermelon
  • Papaya
  • Guava
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Gac
  • Chili sauce
  • I eat papaya all year round, watermelon in the summer and other lycopene rich foods, every now and then. However, more often than not, I turn to ketchup, although it ain't the most healthiest choice since it contains food aditives, too.

    LYCOPENE AND HEART DISEASE

    It works in similar way as other carotenoids, especially its bigger brother, astaxanthin thereby exhibiting similar effects.

    When it comes to lycopene benefits, concerning the cardiovascular system, it prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol which reduces the risk of plaque build-up. It may also help lower total cholesterol, triglycerides as well as LDL cholesterol. However, it doesn't shows any significant effect on HDL cholesterol, as astaxanthin does.

    On the other hand, as well as astaxanthin, it may reduce C-reactive protein which is one of the markers predicting heart disease. By doing so, it helps prevent atherosclerosis and heart attack.

    Higher levels of lycopene in the blood have also been connected with lower risk of angina, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction.

    However, it seems that women respond better to lycopene. Nevertheless, men expirience the same benefits of lycopene as women do but to a lesser extent.

    SKIN AND SUN EXPOSURE

    All carotenoids, including lycopene, can protect us from dangerous UV light, to a certain point. A woman that consumed large amounts of tomato juice for extended period of time, experienced elevated levels of lycopene in the blood which caused her skin to became orange-yellow.

    However, she didn't experience any serious lycopene side effects.

    I also experienced similar lycopene benefits, when I was working for the turist agency in the summer of 2011. Thanks to astaxanthin and lycopene, I avoided the sunburn, while I had orange colored tan. Also, I didn't experience peeling or red, burnt, inflamed skin.

    CANCER

    There has been a few studies which say that lycopene could be useful in treating and preventing several cancers, especially prostate cancer.

    However, this may not be due to benefits of lycopene since other nutrients in tomato may also be responsible for these properties. This includes other carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene as well as different flavonoids such as naringenin.

    CONCLUSION

    Although lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and carotenoid, I wouldn't advise you to take it alone. It would be the best to get it from food, in order to get all the lycopene benefits.

    However, if you decide to take it as a supplement, either take it along with other carotenoids or with fish oil. Fish oil lowers cholesterol, while lycopene prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol which makes these two work very well together.

    Besides, the benefits of lycopene mentioned above, this great nutrient  may also reduce the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and slow down the aging process.





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