24 April 2007

Lycopene-just what is it

So what is lycopene you ask.

Lycopene is a strong antioxidant, which can help to combat degenerative diseases such as heart disease. It was found that increased concentration of lycopene gives an increased protective effect, so the most concentrated food sources, like tomato puree and ketchup, are better protectors against these diseases. The human body cannot produce lycopene and needs to obtain it from the foods in our diet. High lycopene foods are the most effective against degenerative diseases.

The deep red color that is present in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, guava and watermelon is caused by lycopene, a carotenoid. Other carotenoids include beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which give carrots their orange color. Carotenoids are fat soluble so they are found in fatty tissue and transported by lipoproteins. They assist Vitamin A and aid the immune system.

There have been many recent studies into lycopene so that it can be used to its fullest potential in fighting diseases. A heart study measuring lycopene in fatty tissue of 1,374 men showed that it could reduce the risk of a heart attack by 50%. But wait, lycopene does more than that.

It is an anti-carcinogen, greatly reducing the risk of some cancers. In a 6-year study of 47,000 male health professionals Harvard Medical School found that eating tomato products more than twice a week was associated with 21-34% reduced risk of prostate cancer. In 1995 Harvard School of Public Health studied further into this and found that those men who ate more than 10 servings of tomato foods a week were 45% less at risk to prostate cancer; those with only 4-7 servings were 20% less at risk. The University of Illinois found that comparing woman with the highest levels of lycopene and those with the lowest showed that the highest levels were five times less likely to have cervical cancer. Tomatoes are therefore a very important part of our diet and if tests are conclusive then this could be a serious step towards combating other cancers.

The following has more on Lycopene in addition to some of the most lycopene rich foods along with total mcg for each item. In addition to that site, I can't stress enough how wonderful WHFoods truly is.


Dixie said...

Oh so that's why my doctor asked me if I eat tomato based products a lot. I do actually - at breakfast I often eat tomato paste on whole grain rolls (tomato paste in Germany comes in tubes like toothpaste). Lots of flavor without the calories and fat of butter and marmalade or Nutella.

Okay. I still have a bit of Nutella sometimes too.

Twango said...

I love the tomato paste in a tube, got so excited first time I saw it.

I had never thought of using it like butter on a roll like that. I just might have to try that. That might be something to do for lunch sometimes instead of peanut butter

Dixie said...

It reminds me a bit of a pizza. And you don't need much. I just like that you get a big burst of tomato flavor.