Lycopene is an antioxidant that effectively protects the cells in the tissues where it’s highly concentrated. It is found in tomatoes, red carrots, red bell peppers, watermelons, pink grapefruits, apricots, pink guavas, gac, and papayas. It gives fruits and vegetables a red color. Lycopene is not an essential nutrient, but is commonly found in diet. Although lycopene by chemical composition is a carotene, it has no vitamin A capacity.
When lycopene is absorbed via digestion, transported by lipoproteins and distributed within the fatty tissues of the testes, prostate, adrenal glands and the liver.
Lycopene has been recognized for the following benefits
- Prevention of prostate cancer. Lycopene inhibits androgen receptor expression in prostate cancer cells and reduces prostate cancer cell proliferation [srs]
- Lowering risk of the pancreatic, ovarian, lung and bladder cancers
- Normalizing the sleep maintenance insomnia and early morning awakenings
- Prevention of heart disease, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis)
- Treatment of human papilloma virus (HPV) that is often implicated in uterine cancer
- Cataracts prevention
- Plantar warts prevention
Lycopene is recognized is non-toxic as long as consumed with foods or with reasonable amounts as a supplement. In excessive consumption as a supplement, it may result in skin color change to orange-yellow. Daily supplements of 20mg of lycopene can be safe to use up to 10 weeks although each individual’s health status needs be taken into the account. Lycopene should only be used under a doctor’s supervision.
The best way to get the lycopene is through foods.
Lycopene in foods
- One 8oz glass of tomato juice provides 20-25 mg of lycopene.
- 12 oz of watermelon contains 9-14 mg of lycopene.
- 15mg (1 tsb) of canned tomato paste contains 3mg of lycopene.
- 1 red/ping grapefruit contains 3.5mg of lycopene
When tomatoes are processed by heat (in the example of tomato juice), the lycopene takes a form that’s easier for the body to utilize.