Learn More About Lycopene
What is lycopene?
Ripe tomatoes get their characteristic color from a fat-soluble pigment called lycopene. Scientists consider lycopene to be a carotenoid, along with such compounds as lutein and beta carotene. However, the body cannot convert it into vitamin A, unlike beta carotene. Lycopene possesses considerable antioxidant power, being able to quench a particularly damaging variety of free radical known as singlet oxygen, and is found not only in tomatoes but also in papayas, red carrots, and watermelons.
What is lycopene used for?
Israeli research holds out promise that lycopene may help lower blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension. For eight weeks, scientists as Ben-Gurion University administered lycopene supplements to hypertensive subjects, with the result that the average participant saw systolic pressure drop to 134 from 144 mm hg, with diastolic pressure dropping to 83 mm from 87 mm Hg. The researchers were particularly excited with the results, since the subjects had been unable to bring down their blood pressure using conventional drugs.
Other work tends to support the notion that lycopene consumption promotes cardiovascular health. For instance, the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a 40,000-person study that concluded that women with the highest blood levels of lycopene have a 65% lower risk for heart disease compared to women with the lowest lycopene levels.
The research involving male heart health appears promising as well. A European study indicated that high levels of lycopene in men correlate with a 48% lower risk of heart diseast. It also suggested that low levels of lycopene tend to increase risk of strokes and heart attacks.
While experts believe that lycopene’s ability to inhibit the oxidation of LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol has a hand in lowering heart disease risk, they also suspect that this carotenoid works through other mechanisms as well, such as its ability to reduce C-reactive protein, a marker strongly associated not only with cardiovascular illness but many other health problems.
Although researchers have gathered evidence to support the role tomato-based products may have in preventing the formation of prostate cancer, they are now beginning to suspect that food containing the antioxidant lycopene (such as tomato sauce) may also benefit patients already suffering from the disease.
Of course, the possible use of this nutrient in the fight against prostate cancer is one of the best known areas of lyopene research. Lycopene appears to block cell-signaling pathways that promote the formation of cancerous prostate tissue, as well as reduce levels of IGF-1, high amounts of which appear to correlate with cancer. A great deal of work suggests that a high intake of lycopene not only reduces prostate cancer risk, but can even reduce tumor size in men who already have the disease. (Note: No one claims that lycopene cures this or any other disease.) Men will also be interested to learn that research indicates that an intake of 30 mg of lycopene per day appears to lower PSA levels, and may even help with the more mundane issue of BPH, the prostate enlargement so often found in middle-aged males.
Other work involving lycopene points to the potential of this carotenoid to reduce the risk of colon, breast, and even oral cancers.
A few of the less well known possible applications of lycopene are for the reduction of the severity and frequency of exercise-induced asthma attacks, the elimination of some mouth sores, and even a lessening of the tendency to get sunburn in fair-skinned individuals.
How is lycopene taken?
Since lycopene is lipid soluble, it should be taken with a meal that contains fat or oil. Olive oil would be an especially good choice. Typical dosages range from 10 mg (the amount found in a glass of tomato juice) to 30 mg per day.
Is lycopene safe?
As of this writing, lycopene appears to be extremely safe. Of course, see your doctor before using this supplement if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
And remember—you can get the best lycopene supplements at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!