Health Benefits of Lycopene
|Lycopene - A Powerful antioxidant with great promise||Darrell Miller||12/10/10|
December 10, 2010 06:11 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (email@example.com)
Subject: Lycopene - A Powerful antioxidant with great promise
Lycopene is a tetraterpene carotene that is largely responsible for the red color of tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables such as carrots and papayas, although it is not a form of Vitamin A as other carotenes are. It is responsible for the production of the pigment beta-carotene which does have Vitamin A activity, and that is also found in carrots and similarly colored foodstuffs.
The health benefits of lycopene have been studied in relation to its possible antioxidant activity and its effect on atherosclerosis and other conditions of the cardiovascular system, and also in its potential anti-cancer properties. Although these properties are still under investigation, there is traditional and anecdotal evidence that is can be used to ward of cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration, a degenerative condition of the retina that results in loss of central vision.
It can be taken as a supplement as a form of insurance, even though the firm medical evidence for its use has yet to be established. While not claiming this to be the case with lycopene, many such traditional uses have eventually been proved to have a firm foundation in science, and many of the initial results and studies with lycopene are tending that way.
The Antioxidant Properties of Lycopene
Carotenoids tend to possess antioxidant properties, and lycopene is as much a carotenoid as the powerfully antioxidant beta-carotene. The problem is that studies focusing specifically on lycopene are rare, and that while such properties can be assumed by association, they have not been conclusively proved for lycopene. Nevertheless, the health benefits of tomatoes are largely assumed to be due to their high lycopene content, particularly powerful when cooked.
Laboratory studies have indicated lycopene to possess strong antioxidant properties, as would also be assumed from its strongly conjugated chemical structure. This would account for its perceived effect upon age-related macular degeneration, and also its possible anti-cancer properties. Several studies have also been carried out using tomato juice in treating atherosclerosis, an oxidative condition involving cholesterol deposition on the internal walls of the arteries.
These studies have been inconclusive, although everything is pointing toward lycopene being a powerful antioxidant displaying all the properties of Vitamin A and perhaps more. A lycopene supplement is believed to be safer than Vitamin A which can be toxic in large quantities (300,000UI +), and lycopene is used as an approved food coloring.
Have you had your Lycopene today?