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Lycopene; Health Benefits and Rich Foods

Lycopene is the color pigment that gives its characteristic color to red and pink fruits such as tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Lycopene is an extremely beneficial molecule for health.

Health benefits of lycopene

1. Lycopene may protect against some types of cancer

Many studies show that lycopene can slow the growth of breast and prostate cancers by limiting tumor growth.

Men who consumed at least two servings of lycopene-rich tomato sauce per week were 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who consumed less than one serving per month of tomato sauce.

2. May support heart health

Lycopene may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease or premature death. It can reduce free radical damage, total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

After a 10-year study, researchers noted that individuals with metabolic diseases with high blood lycopene levels had up to a 39% lower risk of premature death.

3. May support eye health

Lycopene can prevent or delay the formation of cataracts and reduce your risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.

4. May reduce pain

Lycopene may help reduce neuropathic pain, a type of pain caused by nerve and tissue damage.

5. May protect against sunburn

Lycopene can protect against the harmful effects of the sun. A daily intake of 8-16 mg from foods or supplements has been reported to help reduce the intensity of skin redness by 40-50% after UV exposure. However, it should be noted that it has limited protection against UV damage.

6. Lycopene may support your brain health

The antioxidant properties may help prevent seizures and memory loss in age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

7. May contribute to bone health

The antioxidant effect of lycopene can slow the death of bone cells, strengthen bone structure and help keep bones healthy and strong.

Lycopene-rich foods

The most important sources are tomatoes and tomato products. In addition, watermelon, dried apricots, rose hips and pink grapefruit are among the foods that contain lycopene.

Unlike many nutrients, lycopene does not lose its nutritional properties when heat treated. Processed tomato products (paste, pasteurized tomato sauce, soup, etc.) contain more than unprocessed fresh tomatoes. When cooked or crushed tomatoes are served with meals rich in fat (such as pasta with tomato paste), the passage of lycopene from the digestive system to the blood can be facilitated.

As of today, there is no recommended daily intake. However, intakes between 8-21 mg per day appear to be quite beneficial from existing studies.

• Between 0.85 – 13.6 mg per 100 grams of tomato,

• 20 – 23 mg in a spoonful of tomato paste,

• 4.0 – 5.0 mg in a spoonful of ketchup,

• 4.77 mg in 100 grams of watermelon,

• 100 grams of pink grapefruit contains 0.75 mg.

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