A bright red phytochemical called Lycopene, which is also considered a carotenoid or carotene pigment, naturally occurs in large amounts in vegetables and fruits with red or orange skin, like tomatoes, red bell peppers, and carrots. Although medical research hasn’t uncovered all the properties of Lycopene yet, several studies in the past have shown this carotenoid has potential in reducing the risks of developing certain types of tumors, including prostate cancer, and coronary heart disease. As an antioxidant, it inactivates and scavenges dangerous compounds we call free radicals that cause cellular damage.
In addition to its cancer-fighting property, Lycopene also has the following benefits:
1. It promotes intercellular communication through increasing amounts of connexin 43 (Cx43), a type of protein that’s responsible for smooth chemical and electrical transmissions between cells. When cells call out to each other about the presence of cancerous cells in a certain area, the body immediately responds by sending out antibodies that prevent the affected cells from growing and spreading their affliction to other organs or nearby tissue.
Of course, one’s diet must not only comprise of tomato products and supplements that contain serum lycopene, but other antioxidants, too, namely vitamins C and E as well as vitamin A from alpha and beta carotenoids. Because of the Cx43 protein, cells absorb more of these compounds and promote faster bioavailability of prescriptive and chemotherapeutic medication.
2. A team of Finnish researchers discovered a link between Lycopene and stroke incidence. In a study published in the medical journal Neurology on October 2012, the research team found out that men with the greatest amounts of lycopene in their bodies have a 55% to 59% lower chance of having a stroke that’s caused by blood clots.
3. Cells recover more quickly from the damaging effects of oxidative stress. Essential proteins in your body are oxidized more quickly when your system is being attacked by an illness or by toxic compounds, such as free radicals. Increasing the amount of lycopene in your system is said to slow down and reduce the destruction of healthy tissues.
However, there’s no standard range of the required daily intake of Lycopene because of the variability of amounts available in food sources and in health supplements. In addition, the type of lycopene found in food may differ in quality and effectiveness than dietary supplements. Generally, food guides recommend that people consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables each day. It’s also been suggested that people should absorb 5 to 10 milligrams of lycopene every day from tomato sauce, tomato juice concentrate, ketchup, fresh tomatoes, and nutritional supplements.