Lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants fulfilling a peculiar role in our body as a guardian of good cell health. Naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables, lycopene, when consumed regularly and in sizable amounts, inhibits the development of many diseases, especially those caused by negative factors of civilization. One of the main benefits of lycopene is reducing the risk of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. Lycopene can be consumed both in the form of food products and dietary supplements. What are the sources of lycopene? How does it work and how to use it? What are the optimal doses of lycopene to experience health effects?
Table of contents
- 1 What is lycopene?
- 2 Lycopene (lycopene) – what products can you find it in?
- 3 Lycopene content in tomatoes
- 4 Lycopene – health properties
- 5 Lycopene reduces the risk of cancer
- 6 Lycopene and cholesterol
- 7 Lycopene and fertility
- 8 Lycopene and the prostate
- 9 Lycopene-rich diet a natural way to healthier and better-looking skin
- 10 Lycopene – uses
- 11 How to use lycopene – dosage
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is an organic compound that acts as a pigment in plants. It gives them a red or pink color. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, but is found in the highest concentration in tomatoes. Lycopene is often referred to by the abbreviation E160d.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant (antioxidant). It is among the most highly regarded plant products that exhibit anticancer properties. Lycopene, unlike other carotenoids, after absorption in the intestine, is not transformed into retinol, the active form of vitamin A.
Lycopene belongs to carotenoids, the pigments responsible for the yellow, orange or red color of plants. They are found in chloroplasts and chromatophores. Lycopene’s function, like that of all carotenoids, is to protect plants from reactive oxygen species produced during photosynthesis. In the human body, by the way, lycopene plays a similar role – it protects cells from reactive oxygen species. The result of regular use is a lower risk of disease and a slower aging process.
Since lycopene is a fat-soluble substance, the best degree of absorption will be obtained if a product with lycopene is consumed in the company of a product with fat. What is also worth remembering, lycopene is better absorbed in heated form, so it is worth serving some lycopene products warm, if possible.
Lycopene (lycopene) – what products can you find it in?
Lycopene is found in red, red-orange and pink fruits and vegetables, including: pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots, rosehips, papaya, guava, blueberries, currants, grapes, red peppers, pumpkin, carrots, yams.
However, the main source of lycopene in the diet is tomatoes. There is incomparably more of this compound in them than in other vegetables and fruits. Very large amounts of lycopene can also be found in tomato preparations. It is during the processing of tomatoes that lycopene has a chance to be fully released, so it becomes much better absorbed for us.
Most lycopene can be found in tomatoes and their preparations. Among the products rich in lycopene, we should distinguish first of all:
- fresh tomatoes,
- sun-dried tomatoes,
- tomato juices,
- tomato purees,
- tomato pastes,
- tomato sauces,
- tomato concentrates,
- tomato soups.
Lycopene content in tomatoes
If you want to enrich your diet with lycopene, it is advisable to include dishes with tomatoes in your menu as often as possible. Lycopene content in tomatoes and tomato products is very high.
Fresh, ripe, firmly ripened tomatoes can contain as much as 20 mg of lycopene per 100 grams. Much also depends on the variety of tomatoes. On average, raw tomatoes contain 5 mg to 10 mg of lycopene in 100 grams.
Dried tomatoes contain 40-90 mg of lycopene per 100 grams.
Purées, concentrates, ketchups and tomato pastes contain 50-100 mg of lycopene per 100 grams. Sauces and tomato juices contain about 30 mg of lycopene per 100 grams.
The body’s absorption of lycopene will be better when:
- we heat-treat the tomatoes,
- we add fat (e.g. with oil, olive oil, nuts).
Lycopene – health properties
Lycopene exhibits a whole range of health-promoting properties, among which antioxidant (antioxidant) properties are particularly important. By slowing down the oxidation reaction in the body and reducing the amount of free radicals, lycopene counteracts oxidative stress on cells, which reduces the likelihood of their degradation and mutation.
Thanks to its strong antioxidant properties, lycopene improves the condition of the entire body. It has an anti-inflammatory effect, protects the body from premature aging and prevents the progression of disease processes.
The most important health properties of lycopene:
- has a strong antioxidant effect, neutralizes the harmful activity of reactive oxygen species,
- increases the body’s immunity, reduces susceptibility to infection,
- reduces inflammation,
- inhibits aging processes,
- protects cells from damage,
- supports the health of the cardiovascular system,
- positively influences bone density,
- improves skin condition.
Lycopene reduces the risk of cancer
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that, by inhibiting oxidation processes, participates in the elimination of excess free radicals in the body. Free radicals, taking electrons from healthy cells, lead to their damage, which in turn can trigger cancerous processes. Lycopene, by preventing the proliferation of free radicals, counteracts this mechanism.
Lycopene has the strongest antioxidant properties among all the pigments of the carotenoid group. Due to its anticancer properties, lycopene can play a very important role in regularly strengthening the body’s defense barrier against cancer.
According to research at the University of Illinois, high levels of lycopene in the blood provide as much as five times less risk of cervical cancer. The compound can also reduce cell division in leukemia, intestinal cancer, and lymphoma. Moreover, lycopene reduces the risk of prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Lycopene and cholesterol
As a powerful antioxidant, lycopene protects cardiovascular cells from free radical damage. It nullifies inflammation, increases the elasticity of arteries and inhibits atherosclerosis. It also has a beneficial effect on the heart, causes vasodilation of blood vessels and has a hypotensive effect (lowers blood pressure). By preventing excessive lipid oxidation, it counteracts excessively high levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides.
Lycopene and fertility
Lycopene has a positive effect on libido. It also improves blood circulation and thus provides better blood supply to the genitals, thus improving sexual performance. What’s more, lycopene increases sperm motility, sperm count and sperm quality, making it very beneficial for fertility.
Lycopene and the prostate
Lycopene inhibits the excessive activity of androgens, including DHT, a hormone that affects the increase in the volume of prostate tissue. It also has a protective effect on prostate cells. It inhibits the progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia and comprehensively supports the health of this gland.
In a number of studies, lycopene has been shown to inhibit the progression and proliferation and induce apoptosis of cancer cells. It also activates molecular pathways through which it counteracts prostate cancer.
Large amounts of lycopene, as well as many other ingredients that take care of prostate health, can be found in the formula Prostoxalen.
Lycopene-rich diet a natural way to healthier and better-looking skin
Lycopene-rich diet is advisable for people who want to improve the condition of their skin and protect it from harmful factors, such as smog, stress, sunlight, cigarette smoke, etc., using natural means.
Lycopene immunizes the skin against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB radiation, and thus inhibits photoaging of the skin. It protects the skin from free radicals, prevents the formation of wrinkles and helps maintain firm, elastic, healthy-looking skin.
Lycopene – uses
Due to its high antioxidant value and other valuable properties, lycopene has found applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. It is added to creams, lotions, tonics, masks, facial serums, as well as dietary supplements, juices and vitamin drinks, among others. It is also used as a food colorant.
How to use lycopene – dosage
Due to its properties, lycopene is increasingly finding its way into dietary supplements in capsules and tablets, multivitamin drinks and antioxidant drinks. The use of such supplements is a good choice if you want to strongly increase the level of lycopene in the body without having to eat tomatoes and other products containing this compound in very large quantities.
For therapeutic effects, it is recommended to use 30-40 mg of lycopene per day.
And for preventive protection of the body, the recommended dose is 15 mg of lycopene per day.