WHAT IS LYCOPENE?
Lycopene is a carotene and phytonutrient (health boosting, plant based chemical compounds which are not classed as essential nutrients). Early research indicates that this natural nutrient may be able to protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more. In this article I will be providing you with a full overview of lycopene.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF LYCOPENE?
Lycopene was first discovered and isolated in 1910. Its chemical structure was determined 21 years later in 1931.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF LYCOPENE?
Lycopene is an extremely powerful antioxidant that can protect your body’s cells from dangerous free radicals (harmful by-products that are released into your body’s cells during oxygen based reactions).
Provisional research suggests that it may also have further health benefits in humans. However, additional studies are needed before these can be confirmed. The list below highlights these potential benefits of lycopene:
– Possibly acting as an antibacterial (a substance which kills or slows down the growth of bacteria).
– Possibly acting as an antifungal (a substance which treats fungal infections).
– Possibly acting as an antimutagenic (a substance that prevents genetic mutations).
– Possibly acting as an antitoxic (a substance that fights harmful toxins within the body).
– Possibly preventing arteriosclerosis (the hardening and loss of elasticity within the arteries).
– Possibly preventing cancer (particularly prostate cancer).
– Possibly treating diabetes.
– Possibly preventing heart disease.
HOW MUCH LYCOPENE DO YOU NEED?
Lycopene is not classed as an essential nutrient so no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established. However, some studies recommend consuming 6.5 milligrams (mg) of lycopene each day.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN LYCOPENE?
Lycopene is mainly found in red coloured fruits and vegetables with pink grapefruits, tomatoes and watermelons all being excellent sources. The table below highlights some of the top food sources of this phytonutrient:
|FOOD||MILLIGRAMS (MG) OF LYCOPENE PER 100 GRAMS (G)
|Sun Dried Tomatoes||42.9|
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CONSUMING TOO MUCH LYCOPENE?
Lycopene is not toxic and consuming high levels of this phytonutrient is not believed to be dangerous. However, it can lead to lycopenodermia (a harmless condition where your skin becomes orange/yellow coloured). The good news is that lycopendodermia can be treated by simply eating less lycopene.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FAILING TO CONSUME ENOUGH LYCOPENE?
Lycopene is not classed as an essential nutrient and has no reported deficiency symptoms associated with its consumption. Some people have suggested that long term lycopene deficiency may ultimately cause chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease but there are no studies available to back this assumption up.
Although lycopene is not essential for human survival you should still try to include this natural nutrient in your diet. It has a number of very promising health benefits and by eating lycopene rich foods you can ensure that you fully protected against chronic disease.