Lycopene is a type of carotene, with antioxidant qualities, that is found in food, especially in tomatoes as well as most red or pink food products, like many fruits and vegetables.
It has been shown that lycopene has multiple health benefits: it promotes the functioning of the cardiovascular system and protects the skin and prostate.
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in foods, mainly tomatoes and fruits and vegetables with red pigmentation. Among the benefits of lycopene are that it inhibits the formation of free radicals, helps control weight and prevents the development of many chronic diseases.
Due to its benefits for the skin, lycopene has become one of the most important anti-ageing products. In addition, several clinical studies have shown the relationship between lycopene and a reduction of the risk of developing cancer, especially prostate cancer.
Foods containing lycopene
- Red peppers
- Pink grapefruit
The health benefits of lycopene and its properties:
- It has has anti-ageing properties
- Protects the prostate
- It reduces the risk of several types of cancer
- It protects the skin from UV rays
Lycopene and anti-ageing
Lycopene is a natural antioxidant contained in tomatoes, which inhibits the formation of free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are responsible for damaging cells, affect DNA and cause chronic diseases. Lycopene can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the disease that causes bone loss, due to its antioxidant properties.
Lycopene is a form of carotenoid that prevents free radicals from attacking the natural balance of the body, slowing bone loss and age-related deformation of the bones.
Lycopene also promotes teeth and gum health due to its natural antibacterial properties, which help maintain oral health. Many clinical studies have also shown that it contributes to the health of the cardiovascular system.
Coronary artery disease is often the result of a diet based on unhealthy foods and of the ageing process. By taking more lycopene in capsule form, which contains substances found in tomatoes, you can help promote a healthy heart and to keep arterial pressure within optimum conditions.
This benefit is increased even more when it is consumed with olive oil. Lycopene helps to prevent the skin damage caused by UV rays. This is important because the radiation from UV rays causes damage to the skin, such as wrinkles, blemishes, discolouration and the degeneration of its structure that ultimately causes the premature ageing of the skin.
Lycopene and the prostate
Recent clinical studies have shown that lycopene, derived from a substance found in tomatoes, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. These studies maintain that lycopene inhibits the development of tumours and reduces the chance of developing prostate cancer.
Lycopene and cancer
Clinical studies have shown that people who take a lot of lycopene have a lower risk of developing tumours.
According to these studies the consumption of lycopene reduces the risk of developing not only prostate cancer, but also other types of tumours, such as skin cancer, due to the properties that lycopene has with regards to the skin.
Clinical studies in-vitro and on animals have also demonstrated that lycopene can prevent breast, lung and liver cancer.
Lycopene protects the skin
Studies have shown that lycopene may reduce the damage caused by UV radiation by up to 35%, as well as neutralising the free radicals related to UVA and UVB rays.
Lycopene intake, although it may be at a reduced level, promotes the natural metabolic processes of the body related to growth and regeneration, is involved in the control of weight and helps the skin repair itself.
According to clinical studies, the use of lycopene protects the skin by stimulating cell regeneration, inhibits inflammation and prevents DNA damage, thus helping to prevent skin cancer caused by the sun.
Lycopene and macular degeneration
Taking lycopene protects against macular degeneration, as published in the journal "Experimental Biology and Medicine" from November 2002. This is because lycopene accumulates in certain parts of the eye and protects it from damage. This element is very useful in the treatment of glaucoma, along with other carotenoids.
Lycopene and macular degeneration
The publication "Maturitas" from December 2010, collected information about the natural benefits of lycopene for the regulation of cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Studies have shown that a daily dose of at least 25mg of lycopene, reduces bad cholesterol, or LDL, from 7,55mg/dl to 10,35mg/dl.
No effect was obtained with lower doses. Other studies have shown that an intake of lycopene also has an effect on systolic blood pressure, reducing it by an average of 5,60mm Hg. The conclusion of the study's authors was that lycopene protects against heart disease.
Who does lycopene benefit?
- People who follow a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables, especially tomato
- People who want to prevent the onset of coronary heart disease and protect their cardiovascular system
- People suffering from the human papilloma virus
- Asthmatics, especially those suffering from exercise-induced asthma
- Men with prostate problems
- People suffering from hypertension
- People suffering from an oral disease or gingivitis
- Individuals with a family history and who are genetically predisposed toward suffer prostate, skin, breast, lung, bladder, ovaries, colon or pancreas cancers.
Does lycopene have side-effects?
To date, no side effects are known. Despite this, it is always best to take the recommended dose and verify that the supplement does not contain other added ingredients that may cause side effects. In rare cases, lycopene may trigger allergic reactions.
Since lycopene is a lipid, the health benefits increase when taken together with the olive oil. While lycopene has no side effects, some dietary supplements also contain wheat, sugar, soy, yeast, whey, gluten, nuts or seafood derivatives.
You should therefore carefully check all the all ingredients, especially in the case of persons who have allergies to these substances.
Recommended dose of lycopene
Most researchers recommend a daily dose of between 6-15mg. This is because the dose varies depending on the state of health of each person.
For effective protection against cancer, it is best to take a minimum daily dose of 6mg.
In cases of exercise-induced asthma, the recommended dose is 30mg a day. To help the healing of the prostate, a minimum dose of 15mg per day is required.
What benefits does taking lycopene supplements have?
- It prevents the damage caused by free radicals
- It protects the skin from UV damage
- It increases the activity of a powerful antioxidant enzyme, known as SOD (superoxide dismutase)
- It reduces the damage from white blood cells in the blood
- A high intake produces a reduction in systolic blood pressure
- A high intake also relieves exercise-induced asthma
When the prostate is slightly enlarged due to age, herbal dietary supplements can relieve the discomfort. The most well-known cure is pumpkin seed, not only for relieving the need to urinate frequently, but it can also when the bladder or prostate is inflamed.
Saw palmetto, nettle root, and rye pollen are also good for treating prostate problems. In addition, the phytosterols contained in these plants also have other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and swelling of the prostate gland, inhibiting the long-term enlargement of the prostate and preventing the onset of prostate cancer.