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The Science Behind Lycopene


You do not have to be a scientist or a medical doctor to understand the concept of what lycopen is and what it means to the system when you consume foods rich in this element. Another name for it is "rhodopurpurin" and the scientific or medical name is "non-provitamin A carotenoid" (in case someone ever asks you why you are raving about this antioxidant.) It is in fact an antioxidant compound you will find in tomatoes and various other fruits and vegetables. It is what gives these foods their actual color and is a main carotenoid in diets of people worldwide. Carotenoids are actually pigments that create orange, yellow and red colors in fruits and vegetables. A body uses carotenoids to make vitamin A, but this does not include lycopene.

If you have a diet rich in tomatoes (which is a major source of lycopen), various studies have proven that you have a lower risk of developing various cancer types (especially lung, prostate and stomach cancer). Even though not all studies have come to the same conclusion (lycopene tested on men diagnosed with prostate cancer had little effect), it can be seen as a preventative element and not a curing element. One cannot base all the effects of cancer cells on just one part of a diet.

Lycopen can also reduce or lower the risk of heart diseases, as well as the age-related illness, macular degenerative disease. This disease can ultimately cause blindness. It also reduces risk of lipid oxidation (when normal fat molecules are damaged and inflammation and disease occurs). Lycopene can also reduce LDL or bad cholesterol. It enhances defenses of a body and protects DNA, cellular fat and enzymes.

Even though tomatoes have the most concentrated quantities of lycopen, you can also get this antioxidant in apricots, guavas, watermelons, papayas, pink grapefruits and other foods. It has been determined that lycopene levels in blood is much higher when people eat tomatoes cooked than when they eat them raw or when they drink tomato juice, which is often mixed with unnecessary chemicals. Cooked tomato products, like tomato sauce or paste might thus provide more lycopene concentrations than raw tomatoes.


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