Lycopene – Latest Research Included

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Do you love tomatoes? If you're not, after learning about the remarkable antioxidant abilities of lycopene, you'll be.

Lycopene is a phytonutrient that prevents cancer and is an antioxidant with numerous advantages. It is most often found in tomato nutrition; however, it can be found in a variety of other commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. It shares some characteristics similar to beta-carotene, but they're different.

As a food coloring, lycopene plays a role in the red hue of tomatoes, but not all red fruits and veggies have this powerful antioxidant. It's even listed as a food coloring for food coloring in the U.S. Actually, lycopene isn't dissolvable in water. It can cause staining to many cookware items with the orange color that you usually see after cooking spaghetti sauce.

Although the staining might be difficult to remove, it's definitely worth the effort, as this incredible phytonutrient has numerous advantages.

What Is Lycopene?

Incredibly small molecules were first discovered in 1910, and their entire structure was identified in 1931.

What exactly is the chemical lycopene? The first thing to note is that it is a phytonutrient. In simple terms, phytonutrients are antioxidants found in plants. They aren't originally produced by the human body; instead, they are created by plants to protect against environmental harm, including UV, toxins, and pests. As opposed to letting free radicals circulate within this plant, it makes various phytonutrients that help protect itself.

Like plants, we're also exposed to many harmful chemical compounds in the environment and other substances, such as prolonged exposure to sunlight, which can trigger free radicals to harm cells throughout our body. This is why it's important that we “eat every color of the rainbow.” When you routinely consume plants of all hues and varieties, you'll be able to receive enough phytonutrients to maintain your body's health.

There are over 250 different kinds of phytonutrients found in plants, and one of the five most important groups is carotenoids. Carotenoids help plants absorb light and shield chlorophyll from UV-induced damage. Of the 600 types, lycopene makes the top five.

Like the other carotenoids, lycopene is fat-soluble, which means it is absorbed more easily when eaten in conjunction with fats, like avocados, olive oil, seeds, or avocados. The food that has the highest level of lycopene is tomato, but it can be found in other plant foods, too.

Lycopene can also be purchased as a supplement to your diet in capsule, tablet, and gelcap forms. Various molecular compounds are similar to lycopene, which can be mistakenly identified as lycopene supplements. And since these supplements don't have the same other substances as the ones found in foods, you don't gain the greatest benefits.

Benefits

1. One of the Most Powerful Antioxidants in the World

Antioxidants are vital for a variety of reasons, but especially in the world of processed foods that eliminate the bulk of what gives you the ability to protect yourself and fight off disease. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and could be worth its price because of the amazing benefits it shields your body.

Are you curious about what kind of pesticides you can find in people's food items? Dichlorvos and atrazine are pesticides throughout the U.S. that protect produce from pests. They both also have harmful impacts on human health.

It is good to know that lycopene's antioxidant abilities help shield your body from harm caused by pesticides. Research suggests that it could protect your liver from the joint deterioration caused by dichlorvos and reverse or shield against damage to your cortex caused by atrazine. Isn't it interesting that the adrenal cortex is responsible for your anxiety response, and one of the most commonly used pesticides applied to food and other places damages that area of the brain?

Another potentially dangerous chemical you've been exposed to previously is monosodium glucosamate (MSG). We've all heard about MSG, yet do we know the reason why so many people don't like it? Common side effects associated with consumption of MSG are headaches, flushing, the sensation of sweating in your face, pressure on your eyes, nausea, numbness, and weakness, as per the Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic.

These symptoms are primarily neurological in that MSG functions as an “excitotoxin” in the brain. This means it increases cell-mediated reactions to the point where it causes cell death, also known as “apoptosis.” Yet the study of 2016 revealed that lycopene safeguards cells by preventing apoptosis in the event that MSG signaled the brain that it was meant to occur.

Another purpose of this phytonutrient is to treat candidiasis. The name of yeast infections also refers to it. Contrary to its effects on MSG toxicity, lycopene triggers apoptosis of the infected fungal cells. This is beneficial for both candidiasis in the mouth as well as the vaginal yeast infections.

Lycopene is not just a remedy in the fight against diseases; it also has antioxidant properties. These properties are also believed to repair damage to the blood-spinal-cord barrier in cases of spinal cord injuries. This groundbreaking research is groundbreaking because the destruction of the barrier is one of the causes of paralysis for those suffering from spinal cord injury.

2. Helps Prevent Cancer

In addition to its potent antioxidative properties, lycopene is believed to play part in preventing and reducing various forms of cancer. It makes food products that contain it cancer-fighting.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth. The University of Portsmouth studied lycopene's capacity to slow the development of prostate and breast cancers by preventing the signal pathways that typically trigger cancerous cells to grow. Another study involving more than 46,000 males showed a substantial relationship between a high intake of lycopene and a decreased chance of developing prostate cancer. This study, presented in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, specifically emphasized that eating tomato sauce plays a crucial in the development of prostate cancer.

Like its impact on prostate and breast cancer, lycopene can inhibit kidney cell growth. Malignant kidney tumors are the most prevalent kind of cancer, which suggests that lycopene could play a significant role in preventing this kind of cancer.

Another form of cancer-related treatment utilizing Lycopene is to treat HPV infection, which is the main source of Uterine cancer. Individuals who add to their diets additional Lycopene have a better chance of recovering from this cancer-causing infection compared to those with lower levels of Lycopene.

A fascinating aspect of these studies is that they concentrate on the consumption of lycopene, not supplementation. The impact of the mix of nutrients in food items that contain lycopene is significant, but it cannot be replicated with supplements.

3. Keeps Your Eyes Healthy

It's an earth's gift that keeps giving. Lycopene can also shield your eyes from oxidative stress, which can cause eye disease, making it among the most potent eye vitamins you can consume. Through research into the development of cataracts conducted by researchers from the Department of Pharmacology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, it was discovered that lycopene could be able to stop or delay cataracts in the vast majority of instances.

Lycopene can also significantly affect the chemical process that contributes to macular degeneration due to age, which is the main reason for blindness in those who are elderly. Through its properties of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, Lycopene reduced or prevented a wide array of reactions in the cells of the eye which can be caused by or contribute to macular degeneration, according to a study from Taiwan which was reported in Life Sciences.

4. Alleviates Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathy, also known as neuropathy, is a complicated pain disorder caused by nerve injury frequently caused by soft tissue damage. There are many causes of neuropathy, ranging from alcoholism and the amputation of limbs to diabetes. Sometimes, it happens idiopathically. That is, there's no definitive root cause.

There aren't many effective treatments for neuropathy; however, in some instances, it is possible to treat the underlying disease (like HIV/AIDS or diabetes), which can ease some of the discomfort. However, most doctors prescribe over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve, which is rarely a response to these medications or other conventional methods for managing pain.

Specifically tested against neuropathy caused by diabetes, lycopene expressed antinociceptive (pain-inhibiting) abilities and reduced the body mass of the participants in the study, which was published in the European Journal of Pain. The study suggests that an increase in lycopene intake from food has the potential to alleviate chronic pain sufferers with neuropathy.

5. Good for Your Brain

Lycopene has also been proven to have significant neurological advantages, and food items containing it are recommended as top food items for the brain. As an example, the treatment of lycopene has been studied as a possibility to stop the progression and onset of Alzheimer's by repairing the damage to cells and protecting healthy cells. In patients who have already been diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease, lycopene helps prevent future cell death and damage in the brain. It does this by interfering with specific mitochondrial interactions that are not controlled, allowing the brain to be weakened over time.

In a similar manner, it also has the ability to soothe epileptic seizures. This is crucial because seizures reduce oxygen flow to the brain and could cause permanent brain damage if they last longer. In a study conducted in 2016, researchers discovered that it wasn't just able to stop future seizures; it also helped repair damage to the brain caused by seizures in the past.

In addition to neurological diseases, there is a lot of worry about the prevalence of diets containing bad fats throughout the Western world and how they influence the development of our brains. All fats aren't identical, and certainly not all of them are harmful to your health, as you would think.

However, in light of the connection between common Western diets and neurodegeneration, researchers from China found that lycopene prevented the impairment of memory and learning in people who eat high-fat diets.

6. Improves Heart Health

From beginning to end, Lycopene can also protect your heart against various common conditions.

It's among the essential nutrients for lowering blood pressure. It can also prevent various cardiovascular diseases, like myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart due to blocked arterial vessels) and atherosclerosis. In particular, about studies on coronary heart diseases, the tomato's nutritional content is specifically cited as a key element in the prevention.

In general, high levels of lycopene found in the bloodstream are linked to a lower death rate for people suffering from metabolic syndrome, which is a mix of conditions that can lead to heart disease.

7. Keeps Your Bones Strong

Calcium and vitamin K aren't all you need to ensure your bones are solid. Lycopene can also help relieve bone oxidative stress, which can result in brittle bones and weak structure. It slows down the cell death process (cell death), which makes bones weaker and strengthens the cellular structure of bones, ensuring they are healthy and more durable.

Lycopene vs. Beta-Carotene

There are many other carotenoids that are well-known in health research. Beta-carotene is one such carotenoid. It has similarities and some distinctions to lycopene, which are significant to be aware of.

  • They are both antioxidants.
  • Beta-carotene is a precursor for vitamin A. Lycopene is not a precursor to any vitamin.
  • Lycopene hasn't been shown to cause permanent or adverse effects due to excessive consumption. Vitamin A from beta-carotene, however, is toxic, although this is only true in cases of over-supplementation, not in dietary intake.
  • If you consume diet drinks, your body will eliminate unnecessary beta-carotene and lycopene.
  • Both have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
  • Both can protect against cognitive decline as well as eye diseases.
  • Tomatoes contain the highest amount of lycopene, and peppers receive the highest levels of beta-carotene in a single serving.
  • Beta-carotene supplements could negatively interact with a range of drugs, including orlistat, statins, cholesterol-lowering medications, and mineral oils. Lycopene is a potential risk when it is combined with nicotine, fertility medicines and a variety of other dangerous classes of drugs.
  • There is a suggestion of a link between elevated beta-carotene levels and the incidence of smoking-related cancer. There is no evidence of a link between lycopene and a higher cancer risk.

Best Foods

Although most research studies focus on the high content of lycopene in tomato-based nutrition, however, many foods contain a high amount of lycopene that you can include in your diet.

  • Tomatoes
  • Gac (a Vietnamese fruit)
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Guavas
  • Papaya
  • Asparagus
  • Red Cabbage
  • Mango
  • Carrots

Side Effects

There aren't any known negative effects associated with having too much lycopene in your system, however there are some known side effects associated with excessive lycopene intake, which include nausea, diarrhea stomach cramps or pain gas, vomiting and an appetite loss.

There are a few cases of skin discoloration referred to as “lycopenodermia” among a handful of individuals who consume extremely large amounts of tomato-based products. This is not a toxic reaction that can be treated by several weeks of a diet free of lycopene.

Regarding interactions with medication or drugs, lycopene has no known significant, moderate, or even mild interactions with other medicines. If you do decide to use a supplement with lycopene, it is recommended to first speak with your medical specialist.

Final Thoughts

  • Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that can help protect and heal the body from damage caused by various diseases.
  • You can consume much of it through watermelon, tomatoes, and other foods and fruits.
  • One of the most effective ways to ensure your body gets the most lycopene-rich food possible is to add healthy fats and heat to tomatoes, for example, making your own tomato sauce for pasta. The changes in lycopene molecules that cause this (from straight to bent) aren't typically found in commercially produced pasta sauce.
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