What Are the Health Benefits of Lycopene?

What Are the Health Benefits of Lycopene?
Like beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene is an antioxidant member of the carotenoid family. The many different known carotenoids create the bright colors in fruits and vegetables.

Lycopene is responsible for the color red and is most abundant in the fruits listed below:
  • guava,
  • rosehips,
  • watermelon,
  • pink grapefruits
  • and red tomatoes.
What can foods high in lycopene do for you? A significant amount of scientific laboratory and population-based research shows that this specific carotenoid has many important health benefits. Lycopene has been shown to help prevent the following health conditions:
  • cataracts,
  • skin cancer,
  • heart disease,
  • stomach cancer,
  • cholesterol oxidation,
  • breast & prostate cancer,
  • atherosclerosis development,
  • age-related macular degeneration,
  • pancreas, cervix, ovary & lung cancer,
  • free-radical damage to your 70 trillion cells.
But even though lycopene has very powerful antioxidant properties, it's also been shown to be ineffective when taken in isolated supplement form. Like all carotenoids, and most other nutrients, lycopene is potent only when combined with the rest of the carotenoid family.

How does Lycopene Work?

Research shows that lycopene may be an even more important antioxidant than its better known carotenoid relative beta-carotene. Lycopene is mainly stored in the cell membrane and is especially effective in preventing oxidative damage to important cell membrane fatty acids.

Cell membranes are the gate-keepers of your approximately 70 trillion cells. They keep toxins out of the cell, help to remove any damaging debris and let life-giving nutrients into the cells.

Therefore, the function of lycopene is a major factor in preventing disease, especially cancer.

Lycopene has been found to help prevent and treat various forms of cancer by slowing down the growth of abnormal cells and by helping to stop the development of cancerous tumors.

Plus, by interfering with oxidative free-radical damage to LDL cholesterol before it can be deposited as arterial plaque to harden and narrow the arteries, lycopene’s powerful antioxidant free-radical fighting activity has also been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Getting the Benefits of Lycopene

Since lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient, for it to be absorbed in your digestive tract it’s vitally important that you eat a healthy diet that includes foods with good quality essential fatty acids, such as whole grains, beans, nuts, extra virgin olive oil and cold-water omega 3 fatty fish.

Plus, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that lycopene works synergistically with other carotenoid antioxidants and is much less effective when isolated. So also include plenty of carotenoid rich fruits and nutritious vegetables in your healthy diet.

And, when choosing a supplement, make sure that it offers these benefits:
  • a lipid-soluble base,
  • the complete family of carotenoids
  • and whole food ingredients from the human food chain.
My highest recommendation for a complete lycopene-carotenoid supplement can be found here.

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Boileau TW, Liao Z, Kim S, Lemeshow S, et al. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Prostate carcinogenesis in N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (NMU)-testosterone-treated rats fed tomato powder, lycopene, or energy-restricted diets. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003;95(21):1578-86.

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