For informational purposes you should know that lycopene is part of the carotenoid family of substances (this is the main carotenoid in human plasma), which cannot be manufactured by the human body. Lycopene, is closely related to the well known beta-carotene. Indeed, many recent studies suggest that some of the benefits attributed to beta-carotene actually derived from lycopene.
Lycopene has an important biological value for the human immune system and allows the body to develop antioxidant activity neutralizing free radicals, generated by the normal metabolism of cells.
The levels of lycopene in our body are influenced by many biological factors and our way of life. Within our body it is found in the serum, in the adrenal glands, the liver, the testicles and the prostate.
Lycopene General Info
Lycopene is the phytochemical substance that gives the red color to tomatoes and its derivatives.
Lycopene can also be found in watermelon, in pink grapefruit, in the sanguine, the papaya, the guava and the strawberries.
In the fresh fruits and vegetables, the lycopene is entrapped in the plant tissue. Therefore, only a part of the lycopene contained in the fresh fruit can be absorbed.
The processing of fruit makes lycopene more biologically available, by increasing the surface available for digestion.
The chemical form of lycopene varies with temperature changes occurring during processing and thus it is more easily absorbed by the body.
Although lycopene is available in supplement form, it is likely to be more beneficial when taken from the whole fruit, where other substances of the fruit may increase its effectiveness.
Because of its solubility in fat (like vitamins A, D, E and beta-carotene), the absorption of the tissue increases when it is added to food oil.
Research shows that lycopene can be absorbed more efficiently by the body after it has been processed into juice, sauce, paste or ketchup.
After absorption from the intestine it is “deposited” in the liver, lung, prostate, colon and skin.
Benefits of lycopene
Until now considerable number of studies have shown that lycopene, especially the one coming from the tomato and its derivatives, can help fight various major diseases.
Other scientific studies have shown that lycopene protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation (protect arteries from plaque formation) and that this action of lycopene is greatly enhanced by the existence of another carotenoid, the lutein, which is found in spinach and corn.
Lycopene acts against heart disease, and myocardial infarction.
Lycopene acts against osteoporosis, male infertility, preeclampsia in pregnancy, in diabetes, but also in loss of vision and cataracts.
Studies have shown that lycopene helps prevent macular degeneration in the elderly people, which is the leading cause of blindness in these individuals.
Lycopene has a positive effect on the immune system (white blood cells of people who ate tomatoes were much more resistant to oxidative damage) and helps against aging, and most likely offering wellness and longevity.
There is some evidence that lycopene reduces the oxidation of LDL thereby helping to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Lycopene against cancer
Lycopene protects against prostate cancer, digestive system (mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon), breast, cervical and ovarian cancers.
Regular and adequate consumption of tomatoes reduces the overall risk of cancer at a rate that can even reach up to 40%.
It has been found that lycopene may be used as an anticarcinogenic substance, greatly reducing the likelihood of developing certain cancers. In a 6 year study of 47,000 male individuals, professors of medicine at Harvard found that eating tomato products more than 2 times per week can be associated with a reduction in the probability of prostate cancer by 21-34%.
At the University of Illinois, women with higher levels of lycopene observed five times lower likelihood of developing cervical cancer than those with the lower levels of lycopene. So tomatoes are an important part of our diet and if the test is a factor, this could be an important step in addressing other cancers as well.
How much lycopene should be consumed?
An official recommendation for the daily consumption of lycopene has not been set. However, different studies suggested that for greater protection against cancer at least 6.5 mg per day should be consumed.
Lycopene food sources
In the table below you can see an indication for the intake of lycopene from different types of food
|Product||Lycopene (mg/100g)||Portion size||Lycopene (mg/portion)|