Lycopene – The Natural Red Pigment that Can Help Prevent Disease
- By Healthy Planet
- Feb 9, 2023
- 0 Comments
You probably know that the pigment which lends bold color to certain veggies (tomatoes and pumpkin, for example) is linked to powerful antioxidants – called carotenoids. Most people probably don’t consider taking these carotenoids as individual supplements for overall longevity and improved health.
The benefits of carotenoids like lycopene are vast; including enhanced respiratory, vision, and cardiovascular health. Lycopene is also useful for men experiencing BPH or prostate issues.
What is Lycopene? Beyond Tomatoes
In Western countries, tomatoes make up the predominant intake of lycopene, accounting for close to 90 percent. Lycopene is the carotenoid that lends vegetables and fruit (namely tomatoes) their bright red pigment.
Beta-carotene is another popular carotenoid, known for lending a bright orange color to carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.
Research clearly demonstrates carotenoids as being healthy for us, and reducing the risk factors for all-cause mortality – lycopene specifically offers its own unique health benefits that make supplementing with it worth it.
Lycopene is an exceptionally affordable supplement, with very low risk/interactions and is tolerated well by most people. You won’t be able to get the same amount from food sources that you would in the form of a supplement, even if you consumed tomato-based products with every meal.
The Health Benefits of Lycopene: Prostate Health, Cardiovascular Health, and More
- Lycopene appears to protect sperm cells – improving count, and motility, and reducing oxidative damage.
- Higher blood plasma levels of lycopene were associated with fewer cardiovascular events, strokes, and heart attacks. Conversely, lower levels of lycopene were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
- Other observational studies seem to indicate lycopene as protective against atherosclerosis – the primary risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
- Intake of only ~25mg per day of lycopene was shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.
- Other observational studies indicate that an increased tomato or tomato product intake was correlated with better blood vessel function, better artery function + better arterial health, and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- There is an apparent connection between lycopene intake and prostate cancer. Those with the highest amounts of lycopene intake were noted as having 15%-20% lower occurrences of prostate cancer.
- Lycopene appeared to prevent earlier cognitive decline in rat study models, by reducing oxidative damage to the brain in those with diabetes and/or Parkinson’s Disease.
- Lycopene appeared to prevent memory related deficits and depression, by reducing inflammation in the brain’s hippocampus.
In women, lycopene supplementation appears to reduce pelvic pain symptoms, and the pain associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also reduce diabetic nerve pain by reducing the amount of circulating inflammatory compounds.