Lycopene is an antioxidant that binds free radicals and prevents cell destruction. The human body does not produce it, but only receives it with food. With its many beneficial properties, the substance has a positive effect on the human body.
Lycopene is the carotenoid pigment that provides color to the fruits of some plants. Cooking dishes with tomatoes, you probably noticed how after contact with them stained boards, napkins or towels. It is the lycopene that accounts for the staining effect.
This compound was first isolated in 1910, but the structure of its molecule was determined somewhat later, by 1931. Today lycopene is registered in the Russian Federation as an official food coloring agent. It is a food additive with the number E160d. Lycopene is used as an active ingredient and dye, and is used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
What foods contain lycopene?
Lycopene is found in plant foods. Its main source is tomatoes. Depending on the variety, they contain 5-50 mg of lycopene per kilogram. The redder the fruit, the more lycopene it contains. Thermal processing has almost no effect on its content, but boiling and cooking concentrate lycopene in the final product. While fresh tomatoes contain up to 50 mg/kg, in ketchup the concentration can reach 140 mg/kg, and in tomato paste even more — up to 1500 mg/kg.
Although tomatoes are considered the leader in lycopene content, this is not actually true. The record holders are:
- rosehips — 6,800 mcg;
- guava, 5204 mcg;
- watermelon, 4,532 mcg;
- tomato, 2,573 mcg;
- papaya — 1,828 mcg;
- grapefruit — 1,419 mcg;
- persimmon — 159 µg.
Lycopene is a fat-soluble substance, so it is recommended to eat it with fats, such as avocados or vegetable oils.
The benefits and harms of lycopene
Lycopene is a plant pigment with pronounced antioxidant properties. Its properties are similar to beta-carotene. It helps slow down cell aging and prevents coronary heart disease. Studies have found its beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and the ability to significantly reduce the risk of lung, stomach, and prostate cancer.
There are several other beneficial properties of the antioxidant:
- It protects the liver and adrenal glands from the negative effects of pesticides found in fruits and vegetables. The adrenal cortex is responsible for the response to stress and thus lycopene has a positive effect on the nervous system.
- Lycopene is a natural cure for thrush. It prevents the multiplication of fungal cells, no matter where they are found.
- The antioxidant is known to be beneficial to the eyes. Studies have confirmed its ability to prevent cataracts and slow down their development.
- Lycopene helps relieve headaches, protects nerve cells from destruction and prevents the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- The component acts on bones, strengthening them at the cellular level.
- The substance protects the skin from sunburns and promotes an even and beautiful tan.
- Being an antioxidant, lycopene promotes collagen synthesis, which gives the skin tone and elasticity, helps to smooth wrinkles, eliminate dryness and pigmentation.
Lycopene helps significantly reduce the risks of asthma, gingivitis, fractures, mental disorders. But along with the benefits we should consider the negative aspects. So, smoking and drinking alcohol neutralize all the useful properties of the antioxidant. With an overabundance of lycopene the following side effects are possible:
- abdominal pain and bloating;
- loss of appetite;
- skin turning orange in color.
Keep in mind that the substance may adversely affect the absorption of the following categories of drugs:
- blood thinners;
- blood thinners; sedatives; blood pressure reducers;
- that increase light sensitivity;
- for asthma;
- for stomach upset.
Lycopene derived from plant products has no negative effect on the body of the pregnant woman and the unborn child. It does not cause abnormalities of the embryo and premature birth. But taking supplements during this period is not always recommended. You should not do it without a doctor’s recommendation.
How and why take lycopene?
Lycopene is used for the prevention of various pathologies. It significantly reduces the risk of cancer. In addition, it is the only carotenoid that prevents stomach and prostate cancer. It is also used to prevent diabetes, infertility treatment, diseases of the musculoskeletal system, vision pathologies. You can take lycopene for weight loss and rejuvenation.
The substance is best absorbed with fats. Take it in the form of products, combine it with vegetable oils, nuts, oily fish and avocados. You can also take lycopene in the form of dietary supplements. In this case, you should clearly follow the instructions. It is advisable to consult a doctor beforehand. As a rule, the recommended dose of lycopene is 5 mg per day. Supplements are washed with water or unsweetened juice.
Benefits for Women
Lycopene is useful for the female body. It has a positive effect on the female reproductive system, reduces the risk of uterine cancer, helps to eliminate bad cholesterol from the body. The property of lycopene to break down fats allows it to be used for weight loss.
Cosmetic properties of the pigment are also known. It helps to neutralize the negative effects of ultraviolet light on the skin. Once in the body, it increases the content of carotenoids and blocks the reactive oxygen species that cause early wrinkles. Due to this, the substance prevents early wrinkles, evens the skin tone, refreshes it, fights with post-acne and pigment spots. Another useful property for the fair sex is the prevention of hair loss.
Reviews of taking lycopene
Individuals who have taken lycopene actively share their reviews. They note that the reception of this substance has a positive effect on health, beauty and youthfulness. In many cases, lycopene, if taken in a comprehensive approach, helped to cope with cardiovascular disease, mastopathy and even cancer. Women confirm the positive impact on their skin, improving its condition, as well as a perfectly even and beautiful tan, which helped to achieve the supplement intake.
Lycopene is good for both beauty and health. The best way to provide your body with this antioxidant is to enrich your diet with fruits and vegetables that contain it. In some cases, supplements may be appropriate.