Lycopene Benefits

Lycopene is a bright-red carotenoid hydrocarbon found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, red carrots etc.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including sun protection, improve heart health, and lower the risk of certain type of cancer.

Lycopene can be found in supplement and also in Lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes and other red or pink fruits.

Strong Antioxidant Properties

Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family. Antioxidants protect your body from damage caused by compounds known as free radicals.

When free radical levels outnumber antioxidant levels, they can create oxidative stress in your body. This stress is linked to certain chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Research shows that lycopene’s antioxidant properties can help keep free radical levels in balance, protecting your body against some of these conditions.

May Promote Heart Health

Lycopene may also help lower your risk of developing or prematurely dying from heart disease.

That’s in part because it may reduce heart disease risk factors. More specifically, it may reduce free-radical damage, total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

High blood levels of lycopene may also add years to the lives of people with metabolic syndrome — a combination of health conditions that can lead to heart disease.

Over a 10-year period, researchers noted that individuals with metabolic disease who had the highest blood lycopene levels had up to a 39% lower risk of dying prematurely.

In another 10-year study, diets rich in this nutrient were linked to a 17–26% lower risk of heart disease. A recent review further associates high blood levels of lycopene with a 31% lower risk of stroke.

Lycopene’s protective effects appear particularly beneficial to those with low blood antioxidant levels or high levels of oxidative stress. This includes older adults and people who smoke or have diabetes or heart disease.

May Protect Against Sunburn

Lycopene also appears to offer some protection against the damaging effects of the sun.

In one small 12-week study, participants were exposed to UV rays before and after consuming either 16 mg of lycopene from tomato paste or a placebo. Participants in the tomato paste group had less severe skin reactions to the UV exposure.

In another 12-week study, daily intake of 8–16 mg of lycopene, either from food or supplements, helped reduce the intensity of skin redness following exposure to UV rays by 40–50%.

In this study, supplements providing a mix of lycopene and other carotenoids were more effective against UV damage than those providing lycopene alone.

That said, lycopene’s protection against UV damage is limited and not considered a good replacement for using sunscreen.

Other Potential Benefits

Lycopene may also offer a range of other health benefits — the best-researched ones include:

  • May help your eyesight: Lycopene may prevent or delay the formation of cataracts and reduce your risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.
  • May reduce pain: Lycopene may help reduce neuropathic pain, a type of pain caused by nerve and tissue damage.
  • May protect your brain: Lycopene’s antioxidant properties may help prevent seizures and memory loss experienced in age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
  • May contribute to stronger bones: Lycopene’s antioxidant action may slow down the death of bone cells, reinforce bone architecture and help keep bones healthy and strong.

HOW IT IS TAKEN
Lycopene is primarily available in capsule and soft-gel form daily with meals. Fruits that are rich in Lycopene are:
1. Tomatoes

2. Watermelon

3. Pink grapefruit

4. Pink guava

5. Papaya (pawpaw)

6. Red carrots.

 

Written by: Sarah Amah & Omojo Emeje

Reference: Healthline

 

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